Asian gypsy moth (AGM) is a serious pest that can be carried on ships and cargo. AGMs exist mainly in some seaport areas in Far East Russia, Japan, Korea, and Northern China. If introduced to North America, AGM would significantly affect forestry and agriculture, the natural environment, the commerce that relies on those plant resources, and market access.
Vessels must arrive in North American ports withouth AGM and with required pre-departure certification. It is crucial that the maritime industry and authorities in the US and Canada cooperate to limit the risk of AGM incursion.
When vessels arrive without the AGM certification, or when AGM is detected, important delays in cargo loading or discharging activities as well as in routine clearance can take place. These can lead to loss of revenue to the shipping line and associated parties.
In fact, during the 2018 AGM flight period, a high number of moths was reported in many regulated ports. When ships call on areas regulated for AGM during the specified periods, the following measures are required:
- Vessels must be inspected and must obtain pre-departure certification from a recognized certification body. A copy of the certificate, stating that the vessel is free of AGM life stages, must be forwarded to their U.S or Canadian agents. The certificate must be issued from at least the last port of call in a regulated area that was visited during the specific risk period;
- Vessels must arrive in North American ports free from AGM. To avoid facing inspection delays, re-routing and other potential impacts associated with mitigating the risk of entry of AGM to North America, shipping lines should perform intensive vessel self-inspections to look for, remove (scrape off) and properly dispose of or destroy all egg masses and other life stages of AGM prior to entering U.S. and Canadian ports;
- Vessels must provide two year port of call data, at least 96 hours prior to arrival in 2 a North American port, to the Canadian or U.S. agent. The agent is to ensure that this information is provided to U.S. and Canadian officials.
In addition, vessel operators must make sure that the vessels are in good repair and decks are clear of debris and unnecessary obstacles, to enable inspection both in AGM regulated areas and upon arrival in North America.
What is more, arranging for inspection and certification services well in advance, along with providing two-year port of call history at the time of that request allows the inspection and certification body to better plan for delivery of the service in a time.
During the flight period, inspection should be performed and certification issued as near to departure as possible. If the vessel departure is delayed after certification, there is the possibility that moths may re-infest the vessel with egg masses being deposited after certification.
However, the Japan P&I Club reminds that there may be differences in port of-entry processes between the US and Canada.