With the steady growth of yacht tourism, Fiji is becoming a yacht and super yacht hub of the South Pacific.
A Marine Industry Survey in 2012 revealed that 662 foreign yachts and super yachts arrived in Fiji last year bringing with them more than 4000 tourists and contribut- ing about $30 million in foreign exchange.
While this is good news for Fiji’s tour- ism industry, the international yachts and super yachts entering Fiji waters also pose biosecurity risk and are closely monitored by the Biosecurity Authority of Fiji (BAF). BAF will do all possible to facilitate the passage of yachts into our waters but we also main- tain a high level of vigilance.
All visiting vessels including yachts need to be aware of Fiji’s biosecurity procedures not only to avoid hefty fines and penalties but also to protect our economy, environment and human health from harmful foreign pests and diseases. This is particularly important with regards to live animals, pot plants, meats, fruits and vegetables that are on board the yacht. These items may carry pests and diseases that are not currently present in Fiji and their uncontrolled importation could seriously impact our agricultural sector, economy and environment.
Of great concern to BAF are the unin- spected yachts visiting the remote islands of Fiji. These yachts could have on board biosecurity risk items which they may not be aware of hence increasing the chances of introducing invasive plant or animal species and exotic pests and diseases.
As a result of this, BAF has a surveillance boat- BIOSECURITY1- which conducts sur- veillance and monitoring in the Yasawas and Mamanucas as these are both prime tourist spots for Fiji. Among other things, the sur- veillance boat is used to inspect the incoming yachts to the Mamanucas and Yasawas.
Biosecurity clearance procedures for yachts and pleasure crafts
Once in Fiji waters, the yachts should proceed to the designated quarantine area
The master or captain of the yacht must declare the following:
- the destination seaport in Fiji and the estimated time of arrival of the vessel
- its immediate preceding port or place of call
- the proposed itinerary of the vessel until it leaves Fiji
- the nature and country of origin of its cargo
- the number of passengers and crew
- the presence of any live animal or live plant on the vessel
- the nature of any illness or malady af- fecting any live animal, plant, crew member, passenger or other individuals on board the vessel
- any other matter relevant to facilitating biosecurity landing clearance of the vessel that is specified by BAF
- This declaration must be made at least 24 hours before the estimated time of arrival.
The vessel master is also required to com- plete a Master’s Declaration Form (available on www.biosecurityfiji.com) declaring all biosecurity risk items on board that are either restricted or prohibited.
Items to declare include:
- Foods (tinned/packed), including meat, sausages, salami, ham, poultry, eggs, milk, butter, cheese, honey etc;
- Plants or parts of plants (live or dead) including vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, bulbs, flowers (fresh or dry), mushrooms, straw, bamboo or any other article made of plant materials;
- Animal products including feathers, fur/ skin, shells, hatching eggs.
- Animals, reptiles, fish, birds (or parts thereof), alive or dead, stuffed or mounted;
- Soil or equipment used with animals of any kind or that has come in contact with soil;
- Biological specimens including vaccine cultures, blood or any other biological speci- men; and
The yacht master should also ensure that no garbage containing any animal, plant, animal product or plant product is discharged from the yacht into the sea while the yacht is in Fiji. All garbage generated on the vessel should be placed in a suitable leak-proof con- tainer, with a lid, and the container should
be securely fastened at all times and kept on board the yacht. The garbage can only be removed from the yachts under the directions of a biosecurity officer.
Live animals on yachts
- Cats, dogs and other pet animals cannot be imported into Fiji via yachts.
- In general no animals will be permitted to come ashore in Fiji and must remain on board the vessel at all times while in Fiji’s territorial waters.
- Yachts arriving in Fiji with live animals such as dogs, cats, pet birds, etc are required to pay a bond to BAF as security against
the animal coming ashore while in Fiji’s territorial waters. The bond payment is $FJD $1,500 and is refundable on departure from Fiji if bond conditions are not breached.
- Cats and dogs must also be vaccinated against rabies not more than 12 months and not less than 6 months before arriving in Fiji. One month after the rabies vaccination of the dog, it must be subjected to the Rabies Neutralization Antibody Tire Test (RNATT) with a positive result of no less than 0.5 IU per ml.
- Vaccination certificates and laboratory tests results must be original and made avail- able to biosecurity officers when Biosecurity Boarding Inspections are carried out at the First (1ST) Port of Entry.
- Pet birds (e.g. parrots, finches, canaries etc) on yachts must be healthy and free from the Avian Influenza and Newcastle Disease without vaccination. They must be tested free of Newcastle Disease six (6) months prior to arrival in Fiji and also must not have been in the waters of countries with Avian Influenza and Newcastle Disease. While in Fiji waters, pet birds must be in locked cages at all times, and the animal must not be brought on shore at any time.
By taking these precautionary measures visitors will enjoy traversing the pristine waters of Fiji without worrying that their pets may be posing a risk to the native fauna, flora, the environment and human health in Fiji.
Biosecurity advice to outer islands
BAF has been advising people especially those on remote islands to keep a look out for yachts not cleared or inspected by the border control agencies and report them to their nearest Police, Health, Customs or BAF office. These yachts would be flying the yel- low quarantine flag.
The vast majority of yacht and super yacht traffic in Fiji do the right thing and abide by our laws as it is in their interest to do so. These mariners are well travelled and familiar with biosecurity procedures in the Pacific and elsewhere in the world and with their help and that of our communities, Fiji’s pristine environment will be protected from harmful pests and diseases.
For more information on this please contact BAF on 3312512 or e-mail info@ biosecurityfiji.com.