The careful management and eradication of non-native species in South Georgia means that biosecurity is a Government priority and an integral part of the environmental management of this UK Overseas Territory.
The Government has worked closely with the South Georgia Heritage Trust and biosecurity experts to understand the biosecurity risks to South Georgia and identify appropriate measures to address them in order to safeguard the on-going investment in non-native species management.
The Government has put in place an annual programme of review and improvement of biosecurity policies and procedures. These cover every aspect of operations from packing cargo in the UK to long-term shore-based monitoring on South Georgia. Current measures are detailed in our Biosecurity Handbook 2017/18.
The Government monitors compliance with its biosecurity requirements including through on-site audits of packing operations and inspections of cargo. Between June 2016 and May 2017 GSGSSI officers undertook 213 biosecurity checks on cargo and baggage, including individual inspections of 926 items, at South Georgia and the Falkland Islands. The Government already transports the vast majority of its cargo in biosecure pallet boxes, with larger cargo transported in shipping containers pre-deployed with rodent and invertebrate bait stations and fumigation.
As part of our programme of continuous improvement we are exploring several larger-scale projects to build on our existing biosecurity controls:
- a trial of a rodent detector dog inspection programme based in the Falkland Islands for vessels departing for South Georgia which stands to form an important element of ‘upstream’ biosecurity;
- working with the British Antarctic survey on the construction of a dedicated biosecurity facility at Bird Island, as part of plans for the redevelopment of the research station planned to commence in 2017/18;
- the enhancement of the biosecurity facility at the Government’s administrative centre at King Edward Point as part of a wharf redevelopment project scheduled to commence in 2019. This will include dedicated cargo handling and fully-sealable, rodent proof, biosecurity warehouse through which even the largest cargo items can be checked before being allowed onto the station.
The Government is keen to engage with a range of partners to raise awareness of, and tackle, the biosecurity challenges faced by South Georgia including those at gateway ports and is committed to continuing its investment in biosecurity as part of its wider efforts to safeguard South Georgia’s wildlife.