Ascension Island Government’s (AIG) Director of Conservation & Fisheries, Diane Baum, Terrestrial Conservation & Biosecurity Officer and Reserve Warden, Vicky Knight, and Customs Officer, Kazz Singh, undertook an exposure visit with the St Helena Biosecurity team in May/June 2019.

The overall purpose of the exposure visit was for the AIG team to see how Biosecurity St Helena operates, the system and processes involved, and the challenges they face in helping other local agencies to protect St Helena’s borders. This experience would then help to further the development of the customised biosecurity system for Ascension Island.

During their time on St Helena, the AIG team shadowed the local Biosecurity team, and were exposed to St Helena Biosecurity policies and work at the Jamestown Wharf, where they conducted fruit and vegetable checks and containers and vehicle checks – removing mud, insects and any other unwanted invasive substances. The team also spent time with the Terrestrial Conservation Section and the Invasive Plant Management team. Ascension Customs Officer, Kazz, was also able to work alongside HM Customs (who work very closely with St Helena Biosecurity).

Biosecurity Officer, Julie Balchin, commented:

“It has been a pleasure to have these officers join us. This is just the start of a continued collaborative working relationship between our two Islands with the same aim of protecting our Islands from invasive pests, plants, and diseases using a proactive Biosecurity approach.”

Acting Director of Environment, Natural Resources & Planning, Darren Duncan, added:

“We are always happy to accommodate exposure visits for biosecurity staff working in the region. This enables a sharing of knowledge and experience and increased collaboration on biosecurity matters in the South Atlantic, which in turn strengthens our biosecurity systems and helps to further our shared responsibility for protecting and developing our territories.”

Notes to Editor

Biosecurity St Helena’s objective is to protect St Helena from any unwanted pests, diseases, weeds and anything that can become invasive to the Island. Their activities are targeted across the continuum of:

Pre-border: stopping anything unwanted/invasive from coming to the Island. For example, enforcing licences which have conditions that certain measures must be taken by persons outside of St Helena to prevent diseases etc from coming in to the Island. This typically happens while working closely with importers.

Border: conducting checks of imported fruit and vegetable, containers, vehicles and any other risk imports to the Island to ensure that nothing invasive comes in.

Post-border: monitoring activities to check if pests or diseases have found their way through to the Island after pre-border and border operations and to monitor the status of pests which have already entered St Helena, such as the Mediterranean Fruit Fly.

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SHG

24 June 2019

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