Biosecurity

Annual Biosecurity Review & Release of the 2019-2020 Biosecurity Handbook

(12/09/19)

The Government of South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands (GSGSSI) has released the 2019-2020 Biosecurity Handbook.

Ensuring South Georgia’s biodiversity is protected from invasive species is every visitor’s responsibility, from Government employee to tourist and remains a strategic priority for GSGSSI. We remain constantly alert to new biosecurity threats and ensure our policies remain up to date and reflect best practice standards. In order to achieve this, each year we undertake a review of biosecurity within the Territory.

Between June 2018 and May 2019, 431 biosecurity checks on cargo and baggage were undertaken by Government staff at King Edward Point. Of the 1714 items that were individually inspected during these checks, biosecurity risks were detected on just 10 or just over ½ a percent. Of those 10 failures, only 4 were live organisms.

A ‘Horizon Scanning Exercise’ was completed in October 2018, to prioritise invasive non-native species likely to arrive, establish and impact South Georgia. A long list of species was whittled down through discussion, research and expert consensus to arrive at the list of high-risk species for the Territory, considering impacts on biodiversity, health and economy. This will allow us to focus resources where they are needed most. Unsurprisingly rodents took the top spot on our list of ‘most unwanted’ species, but marine invasive species and invertebrates also scored highly.

GSGSSI implemented a new ‘Biosecurity Audit’ system over the 2018/19 season to check biosecurity procedures of visiting vessels. The new system aims to bolster capacity on vessels to undertake effective biosecurity checks, not just before arrival to Grytviken, but for every landing made on South Georgia. The biosecurity audit showed a trend of improvement over the season, with returning vessels achieving higher pass rates after implementing recommendations.

A second phase of the biosecurity detector dog trial proved successful, and showed how valuable detector dogs are in checking vessels and cargo bound for South Georgia to ensure they are free from rats and mice. GSGSSI is delighted to announce the start of a permanent programme from November 2019. The dog team will be a valuable asset in keeping South Georgia rodent free.

The 2019-20 Biosecurity Handbook, which contains details of GSGSSI’s current biosecurity policies, can be downloaded here.