Norwegian P & I insurer Gard has advised that ship operators are being warned about possible delays and penalties in Canadian and US ports due to presence of the Asian Gypsy moth (AGM) on vessels arriving from East Russia, Japan, Korea, and Northern China.
In a joint bulletin of July 2019, the United States (US) and Canada remind ship operators of the importance of adhering to strict sanitation standards when arriving in North America from one of the countries regulated for AGM. Several vessels have recently experienced delays when entering North American ports due to AGM being found onboard. Among these are also vessels that had been inspected and certified free of AGM prior to departing the regulated country. “Possessing a valid certificate in no way precludes a ship from being ordered out of port if AGM is detected” warns the North American authorities.
In order to avoid potential delays to port entry, or even refusal of entry, in North America, vessel operators are advised to:
- Arrange for AGM inspection, including removal of all AGM life forms and certification as close as possible to departure from the last port of call in a country regulated for AGM, to avoid re-infestation. Inspection and certification must be provided by a recognized certification body.
- Ensure that all vessel activities in regulated areas (e.g. bunkering) are concluded or in the process of being concluded prior to obtaining the AGM certification.
- Conduct vessel self-inspections while en route to North America to remove and destroy all egg masses and other life forms of AGM detected.
- Ensure that the vessels are in good repair and decks are clear of debris and unnecessary obstacles to allow for a thorough inspection both in AGM regulated areas and upon arrival in North America.
In addition to the US and Canada, countries currently known to regulate and inspect arriving vessels for AGM are Chile, Australia and New Zealand. In its advice Gard suggests operators refers to its “Frequently asked questions - managing Asian gypsy moth risk” for a summary of each country’s requirements and relevant publications related to AGM.
Gard also says that national authorities have published guides for conducting vessel self-inspections which are available to download, see Canada’s “Inspect Before Entry“ and the US’ “Gypsy Moth Inspectional Pocket Guide.” These guides provide helpful instructions to vessel crews on what the egg masses look like, where they might be found onboard the vessels, and how the eggs should be removed and destroyed. In summary, the crew should:
- Carry out a thorough visual inspection of all accessible areas of the vessel’s superstructure, decks, holds, cargo and cargo gear. Use binoculars to inspect unreachable areas. Egg masses are often deposited in sheltered locations, in crevices or cavities, under tarps, behind doors, around light fixtures, and underneath the hold rims. As female AGMs are attracted to light, female moths could lay their egg masses on surfaces of the ship exposed to night lights.
- Scrape off any egg masses found and destroy them in alcohol, boiling water or by incineration. Do not paint over egg masses or drop egg masses into the sea as this will not kill the eggs or larvae.
- Record the details of the inspections undertaken and the removal and disposal of AGM egg masses in the vessel’s deck logbook.
It is the responsibility of vessel operators to meet all relevant country entry requirements concerning the vessel being free from AGM and other pests. The implementation of proper routines for carrying out systematic self-inspections onboard the vessel while en route can be a good way to avoid delays and re-routing during subsequent port calls.