THE Biosecurity Authority of Fiji is concerned about the repeated interception of giant African snails and other exotic pests on containers and vessels bound for Fiji.
This after biosecurity officers found two giant African snails on a vessel from Wallis and Futuna at the Suva wharf on Sunday evening.
Twelve snails of a species that has not been identified were discovered on a container from Vanuatu early on Monday morning.
As a result all containers on the vessel had to be fumigated.
Expressing concern over the findings, BAF acting CEO Matai Matakitoga said the snails were found on vessels and containers despite certifications from originating countries that the containers were free from pests.
"This is a serious issue because it undermines our confidence in the certificates issued in these countries," Mr Matakitoga said.
"The giant African snail is one of the most damaging snails in the world. It can devastate Fiji's agricultural industry worth almost $550 to $600million annually and our rich and diverse native forests which is also an integral part of the country's economy," he said.
The snails are known to eat about 500 species of plants including papaya, most varieties of beans, peas, cucumbers and melons. They also reproduce quickly producing about 1200 eggs in a single year, he said.
According to Mr Matakitoga, these snails are difficult to eradicate. He said shipping containers were transport mediums for exotic pests, diseases or other containments adding that insects could hitchhike attached to the surfaces of containers or located in many nooks and crevices available on a shipping container.
Following the interception, BAF has stepped up its precautionary measures.
Mr Matakitoga said they would be placing snail baits around the container terminals at the Suva Wharf and also increase inspections.