With the new season on the horizon, only time will tell if enough has been done to address the threat posed by the brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB).
Nobody wants to see a repeat of the events of the last stink bug season, and new regulations on the BMSB should help. The expansion of the list of countries affected by the stink bug problem is welcome. But we would also have liked to see the UK, Scandinavia, China, Korea and Japan (cargo from Japan is only under heightened surveillance) on the list.
WW Ocean consulted closely with the authorities in Australia and New Zealand when the new regulations were developed. The substantial increase in stink bug target countries – there are now 33 countries on the list – makes sense. Formerly, some European countries such as Belgium were excluded despite their neighbours being on the list – but the bugs don’t respect borders!
We may end up seeing mandatory inspections of RoRo vessels for pests. In an ideal world, we would have liked the new regulations to include an option for on-shore treatment of RoRo vessels for stink bug contamination. Currently, carriers carry all the risk once the cargo has left the port and the situation becomes complicated if there have been treatment failures further up the supply chain.
Ultimately, the presentation of contaminant and pest-free cargo remains the responsibility of cargo owners and shippers. At WW Ocean, we rely on our customers to ensure their supply chain delivers cargo that is contaminant-free and clean for shipping. They must work with treatment providers to ensure cargo has been correctly treated – ‘fogging’ the vessel at sea is not a solution, it just helps detect the bugs.
It’s important, then, that cargo owners assess their supply chains carefully. And if they’re not sure what the stink bug season entails, they must find out more from the Australian Department of Agriculture or New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries and work with customs agents and freight forwarders to address the problem.
Learn how to identify BMSBs and when to look for them.
For our part, WW Ocean will continue to survey and audit cargo and treatment providers. WW Solutions has also invested in treatment facilities at the ports of Zeebrugge and Baltimore. We’re also finalising our official policy on stink bugs for publication before the season (1 September 2019 to 31 May 2020) begins.
No one wants to see an invasion of stink bugs damage the Australian or New Zealand agricultural and horticultural industries. That’s why we’re doing everything in our power to ensure they don’t make the journey from Europe, the US or Far East to Oceania onboard our vessels. But we can’t do it alone: everyone in the industry must work together to combat the threat.