There are five UK Overseas Territories (UKOTs) in the Caribbean (Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Montserrat and the Turks and Caicos Islands) and one located in the adjacent North Atlantic (Bermuda). The UKOTs support a diverse range of unique ecosystems and habitats that sustain many rare and threatened plant and animal species. These are highly vulnerable to the introduction of invasive alien species which can negatively impact biodiversity, economy and human health. During 2018 a horizon scanning exercise identified priority invasive species threats for each territory, and pathway action planning helped develop mitigation actions to reduce the risk of their arrival. Continuing this work, a 5-day workshop on biosecurity for the UKOT plant health import control staff was held at Fera between 23rd-27th September.
The workshop was run by Fera in collaboration with the GB Non-native Species Secretariat and Plant Health and Seeds Inspectorate. Eleven delegates came from the territories and topics covered during the workshop included: Biosecurity; Practical Phytosanitary Border Inspections; Detection of priority plant pests and pathogens; Identification of the main groups of invertebrate plant pests; Specimen collection, preservation, collection curation and digital photography. A field trip with the PHSI to a local nursery was very enjoyable and informative, despite the torrential rain that had followed the delegates all the way from the Caribbean. The delegates also found a surprising large number of insects and mites on plants on the Fera site, which they examined with USB microscopes provided by the workshop. One of the main outcomes of the workshop is the formation of professional networks, and sharing concerns, experiences and best practices among the territories.