In this age of international travel and trade on a larger scale than ever before, as people and commodities move around the world, organisms that present risks to plants travel with them.

Tuesday 18 September 2012, Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC)

New pest incursions and pest outbreaks cost governments, farmers and consumers billions every year. Once pests species are established, their eradication is often impossible, and controlling them takes up a significant percentage of the cost of producing food.

It is to discuss and analyse risks to national plant resources that a consultation of plant protection and quarantine officers from 14 Pacific Island countries and territories are this week (17-21 September) meeting in Nadi at the Tanoa International Hotel. The meeting, titled Regional Workshop for the Review of Draft International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures, is organised by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community's Land Resources Division in collaboration with the FAO International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC). The Convention provides a framework for plant protection that includes developing international standards for phytosanitary measures (ISPMs) for safeguarding plant resources.

The meeting was officially opened by the acting director of the SPC Land Resources Division, Mr Inoke Ratukalou, who reiterated SPC's vision of a secure and prosperous Pacific community, whose people are healthy and manage their resources in an economically, environmentally and socially sustainable way. In addition, LRD's core business is to improve the food and nutritional security of the Pacific Community through the sustainable management and development of land, agriculture and forestry resources. Analysing risks to national plant resources is a major component of sustainable management of agricultural resources.

A regional standard under review in this week's consultation is the generic heat treatment for fruit fly (Tephritidae) host fruit in the Pacific region. Discussion will focus on determination of the host status of fruits and vegetables to fruit fly infestation, and establishment of fruit fly quarantine areas within a pest free area in the event of an outbreak.

The regional consultation is conducted by Dr John Hedley of the New Zealand Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Biosecurity as Principal Adviser, International Organisations; and Dr Jan Bart Rossel, Australia Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Australia's Manager of the International Plant Health Programme. The new chairman of the Pacific Plant Protection Organisation (PPPO), Mr Ngatoko Ngatoko is the meeting chair, assisted by Josua Wainiqolo of LRD's Biosecurity and Trade Facilitation team.

The consultation brings together IPPC contracting parties in the southwest Pacific region to review the ISPMs, and to discuss and exchange views on the draft standards, as well as to assist contracting parties prepare comments on draft ISPMs prior to submitting these comments to the IPPC Standard Committee. The meeting will also give contracting parties the opportunity to call for topics for a standard-setting work programme and for experts to take part in drafting ISPMs, as well as to identify topics for consideration at future workshops.

Contracting parties to the IPPC share the same goal: to protect the world's cultivated and natural plant resources from the spread and introduction of plant pests while minimising interference with the international movement of goods and people.

ISPMs are the standards, guidelines and recommendations recognised as the basis for phytosanitary measures applied by Members of the World Trade Organization under the Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures.

ISPMs are prepared by the IPPC Secretariat as part of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization's global programme of policy and technical assistance in plant quarantine. This programme makes available to FAO members and other interested parties these standards, guidelines and recommendations to achieve international harmonisation of phytosanitary measures, with the aim of facilitating trade and avoiding the use of unjustifiable measures as barriers to trade.

LRD thematic teams - Biosecurity and Trade; Plant Health; Information, Communication and Extension - are providing integrated support to the regional consultation.