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Inspect imported building materials, plants at ports — UK experts

BVI News captured Dr Christopher Malumphy (left) and Dr Jill Key conducting inspections of plants on Tortola yesterday (February 22).

Experts from the United Kingdom want border inspections for imported building materials and heightened inspections of plants being imported into the territory.

Dr Jill Key of the Great Britain Non-native Species Secretariat, and Senior Plant Health Consultant in the UK, Dr Christopher Malumphy said keeping stricter borders will be critical to minimizing new pests and diseases entering the British Virgin Islands.

They made the recommendation after conducting a week-long analysis in the territory.

They worked alongside local border control officers, the Department of Agriculture, the National Parks Trust, and other local stakeholders.

The UK team will be meeting with government on Friday (February 23) to discuss their findings and submit proposals.

“We are here because we know after the hurricanes a lot of things have to be brought in. You have to bring in materials to rebuild your homes and businesses, planting materials for new gardens, more than what would have been brought in before,” Dr Key told BVI News on Thursday.

She said a number of the imported goods are coming from new markets, thus providing an inroad for new pests and diseases invading the territory.

However, if all goods are inspected thoroughly, that risk would be significantly reduced, Dr Key reasoned.

“Building materials coming in are not currently being checked because traditionally they weren’t checked. So we will be suggesting that the whole island should be made aware of the risk and everybody needs to be the eyes and ears.”

She urged persons to report any new pests such as lizards, snakes, and mosquitoes or diseases to the Department of Agriculture.

Buy local 

In the meantime, Dr Malumphy called for businesses and residents to source local plants and building materials where possible.

He said this is a foolproof way to reduce invasive pests and diseases from entering the territory.

Dr Malumphy noted the difficulty in getting everything locally so cautioned importers to bring in smaller plants over larger ones.

The health consultant said the risk of unwittingly importing foreign pests and diseases are significantly minimized with smaller plants.

“We want people to be very careful where they source things from. Bring them in from some reliable sources,” he added.

Happy for the help

Deputy Chief Agricultural Officer Arona Fahie-Forbes also spoke to BVI News and said the UK team’s input is welcomed.

“While I am aware of certain pests, getting proper identification of new pests that have been introduced to the territory would be beneficial to us so that we would know what would be required in order for us to control them,” she reasoned.

Fahie-Fobes said based on the findings, the government will be better informed on the necessary protocols and measures needed for pest/disease importation and control.

Arona Fahie-Forbes

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14 Comments

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  1. Rubber duck says:

    Source building marerials locally? He obviously has a deep grasp of the BVI economy..

  2. Retired says:

    Source building materials locally? Dr. Malumphy are you encouraging BVI islanders to commence tiefing sand from the beaches again? The only local building material left in the BVI are rocks. Please retract your statement to the press.

  3. Bvi says:

    The team’s input is welcome.

  4. Overpaid says:

    The Lady is clearly out of her depth in the BVI.

  5. @ Overpaid says:

    What’s new here, they have always portrayed themselves as the “know it all folk.”

    But that is not the reality, and no history lesson will be written today.

    See and read Anta Diop’s book “The African Origin Of Civilization.

    A must read for every African and African descent on earth. It should be required reading on all secondary and tertiary levels, period!

    In it exist the truths for all open minded folk to learn.

    Meanwhile, plaaeasee!!

  6. Curious says:

    I think one important part of this article is that we have nothing here at the moment that can kill someone. Yes we have small tree boa snakes but they dont have venom. The centipedes and scorpions give a bad bite or sting but that is just annoying. If we bring in tiles from Israel or other parts of Middle East we can easily get killer scorpions in the pallets. Palms from Florida can have real viscous snakes hidden in their rooting bags. Look at the mess in the Everglades where they hunt 16 ft pythons that came as pets and were released when they got too big. This stuff is not a joke. Yes she may have made a dumb statement about local building materials but the gist of the article is really serious for our future. Who wants an island where things hang out in the bush that can kill us.

  7. Sam the man says:

    Embarrassing comments these so called experts have revealed just how poorly informed they are about the BVI – the only locally sourced material would be timber from Sage Mountain which is protected…please return to the UK and take your useless advice with you…

  8. Cb says:

    One thing i have always appriciated about the bvi was the lack of snakes and scorpians, when i was young i knew a guy that helped unload bananas in boston ,mass , he told me that the snakes on that boat were numerous! So i say yessiree inspeak that that comes from other parts of this big world!! I can tell you a sting from a mwxican scorpian is 2 days of misery for shore , been there twice

  9. B. Hooper says:

    The rather odd and unaware ‘locally sourced building supplies’ comment aside, the team is right and does have a point. I know about this, having received some of the bricks from the DR that brought those Cuban Tree Frogs to the Territory in the 90’s. The problem is the simple fact that our Port staff is already overwhelmed and implementing the much needed inspections will require additional trained staff. Please government, accept their advice, but don’t change the rules tomorrow. What we need TOMORROW is an emergency budget passed for the training and hiring of not just inspectors, but more Port Authority and Customs officers.

    When full duty returns, we’re going to have even longer (than the sometimes 3-5 week) wait for release of goods and building materials from the port….without the inspections.

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