Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Regional leaders seek to stop spread of invasive species

Regional leaders seek to stop spread of invasive species

Thursday, 10 December 2009 04:38 by Zita Y. Taitano | Variety News Staff

THE governors of Guam and the CNMI, as well as the presidents of the Federated States of Micronesia, Palau and Marshall Islands have signed a joint communiqué agreeing to initiate programs to ensure that islands in the region will be able to handle the possible influx of invasive species resulting from increased entry of military cargo.

The communiqué was signed during the 12th Micronesia Chief Executives Summit concluded last week. It includes an update by the nine members of the Micronesia Regional Invasive Species Council.

During the summit, the council addressed everything from funding issues, ongoing efforts that would prevent the expansion of the brown tree snake, as well as the development of the Micronesia Biosecurity Plan.

In a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, island leaders expressed their concern regarding invasive species especially with the military buildup and strongly requested that DOD along with its fellow U.S. department and agencies begin proactive measures that would prevent any new invasive species from entering the shores of the islands here in the region.

They also expressed their appreciation for the $2.7 million federal funding for the development of the plan.

The chief executives made some recommendations regarding the plan such as identifying who will head the council and designating two representatives to the council from each state and national jurisdiction by the end of this year.

The council must also reaffirm their commitment and hold two workshop style meetings each year between the summits. During those meetings, the council will discuss invasive issues and what actions can be taken or will be prioritized. A minimum of $2,500 from each jurisdiction would be committed to the council to fund its priority projects.

The council must also reaffirm their commitment and provide a full-time invasive species coordinator for each jurisdiction.

Guam has already taken a step in combating invasive species. Last month, the Inter-agency Bio-Security Task Force was formed at the governor’s office in Adelup.

The task force is comprised of the Guam Department of Agriculture, Guam Customs and Quarantine Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. Its primary goal is provide information and updates on what and how invasive species can be eradicated from Guam.

The task force also has currently in training three canines who will be able to detect any type of invasive species in construction materials or items coming into the island before those items head out to the rest of Micronesia.

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