Rome - Oil spills garner much public attention and anguish, but "biological spills" represent a greater long-term threat and do not have the same high public profile, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned.
Rome – Oil spills garner much public attention and anguish, but “biological spills” represent a greater long-term threat and do not have the same high public profile, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned.
Invasive species arrive in new habitats through various channels, but shipping is the main one, and shipping today means sea containers, FAO underlined in a statement, noting that, globally, around 527 million sea container trips are made each year – China alone deals with over 133 million sea containers annually.
“It is not only their cargo, but the steel contraptions themselves, that can serve as vectors for the spread of exotic species capable of wreaking ecological and agricultural havoc.”
For example, an analysis of 116,701 empty sea containers arriving in New Zealand over the past five years showed that one in 10 was contaminated on the outside, twice the rate of interior contamination.
Unwelcome pests included the gypsy moth, the Giant African snail, Argentine ants and the brown marmorated stink bug, each of which threaten crops, forests and urban environments, the UN agency stressed. “Inspection records from the United States, Australia, China and New Zealand indicate that thousands of organisms from a wide range of taxa are being moved unintentionally with sea containers,” said lead scientist Eckehard Brockerhoff of the New Zealand Forest Research Institute.