Vila Times

The second phase of eradication of CRB

The second phase of eradication of CRB
The second phase of eradication of CRB
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The State of Emergency (SoE) that was declared by the council of Ministers on the 19th July 2019 has finally elapsed on the 21st October 2019. The SoE was declared purposely for the containment as well as eradication of the Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle (CRB) that was discovered on the 20th of May 2019 on Mangaliliu village, North Efate.
The first phase of the SoE activities includes delimiting survey, construction and placement of traps around infected areas, early warning traps placed around Efate Island as well as the two major ports of entry, the Airport and the Wharf. One other major activity that was carried out during the 1st phase of the SoE was sanitation work. This was an important activity which involves almost 100 casuals daily and civil servants from the 13 different government ministries, students from various schools around Efate, youth volunteers and general public. Sanitation work involves clearing possible CRB breeding sites which are old, rotting logs and stumps and burning these sites. Surveillance and awareness were also part of the activities carried out.
The Biosecurity department will now commence on phase 2 activities which is progressing of activities started in phase one. Phase 2 activities includes intensive monitoring, inspection and/or treatment of CRB risk materials out from infected areas and release of biological control agents that will in the long run help to control the population of the coconut rhinoceros beetle. The first release of adult CRB beetles inoculated with the Oryctes rhinoceros nudivirus (OrNV) was done on Monday 14th October by the Minister for Climate Change, Honourable Mr. Bruno Lengone, New Zealand high commission, Mr. Jonathan Schwass and Mr. Mormor, paramount chief of Mangaliliu Village.
The 2nd release of virus inoculated adult beetles was done on the 22nd of October by the New Zealand under-secretary for Parliament.
The nudi-virus has been used in Malaysia and other Pacific Island countries like Tonga, Samoa and Fiji.
The second biological control agent that is being released is the Metarizium fungus. This fungus has also been used in Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Fiji.
The department would like to acknowledge the assistance provided by CIDP and the SPC technical advisors who have and continue to assist the department with the fungal work. Training was also carried out by New Zealand AgResearch bio control specialist, Dr Sean for the production and release of virus in the field. Thus Biosecurity Vanuatu also wishes to acknowledge the assistance provided by the New Zealand Government in the CRB activities.
Activities that will continue after the SoE will be continuous monitoring and surveillance in the infected areas as well as around the island of Efate, sanitation work-revisiting and re-burning of CRB breeding sites and monitoring and servicing of PVC pipe traps, Gill net traps, artificial breeding box traps and light traps. One other important activity that has started is the inspection and/or treatment of CRB host material Activities after SoE will be challenging given shortage of human resources, lack of vehicles to carry out Intensive monitoring, weekly surveillance and capacity building for trained casuals to assist the department. Despite these challenges, the department will continue to carry out CRB activities to avoid spread of beetles out of the infected area and contain them within the quarantine zone.
The Biosecurity department would like to acknowledge NDMO and other MALFFB departments for assisting the department throughout the State of Emergency period as the department would not have been able to carry out all activities during the SoE without the support and commitment rendered by NDMO staff, MALFFB department staff, the Public Service Commission (PSC) for allowing civil servants under Government Ministries to take part in the sanitation work, school administration and students in various secondary schools around Efate, USP students, youth volunteers, nearby communities of north Efate and all other volunteers.