WildAid recently conducted a four-day workshop aimed at improving quarantine inspection procedures for Agrocalidad, the Ecuadorian national customs agency. Retired agents from USDA-APHIS, the agency charged with monitoring and maintaining animal and plant health via pest control and prevention, administered the workshop. Representatives attended the course from Agrocalidad, the Ecuadorian Government Council, the Charles Darwin Foundation, and the Galapagos National Park (GNP).
The focus of the workshop was on improving inspection procedures for maritime cargo and passengers, and especially on the prevention of invasive species entry into the archipelago. The interactive course also included a half-day visit to the port facilities in Guayaquil, Ecuador to observe typical procedures in both the international and Galapagos-specific cargo shipments.
Topics for the course ranged from an introduction to quarantine inspections using USDA approved standards, performing pest risk assessments and evaluating mitigation options, sampling methodologies, specialized inspection strategies, and reviewing inspection programs to ensure accuracy.
Species invasions via cargo shipping to the Galapagos can have massive environmental, health, and socioeconomic impacts. In an effort to strengthen quarantine and inspection procedures for food and other goods traveling from their departure point of Guayaquil on mainland Ecuador to the archipelago, the training provided strategies to maximize inspection accuracy and efficiency; thus ensuring protection for the natural and economic resources of the Galapagos Islands. The second part of the training will take place later on this summer and includes a specialized vessel inspection course to ensure adequate conditions after cargo is loaded.
Since 1998, WildAid has worked in the Galapagos to support the GNP in the intensive task of managing and protecting the Galapagos Marine Reserve. WildAid has developed a comprehensive enforcement model and operational program focusing on the law enforcement chain, which encompasses the activities of detection, interception/arrest, prosecution, and sanctions. More recently, the program has expanded to the prevention of invasive species by establishing biosecure procedures for planes and cargo.