Last month an invasive green iguana was found by the Foster’s supermarket team hiding in a shipping container arriving from Florida. This could have proved to be a risk to Cayman from a biosecurity perspective, however the Foster’s team reacted immediately, closing the container and contacting the Department of Environment. Thankfully, the DoE responded and removed the animal before it escaped.
Biosecurity is a term that describes all measures that prevent non-native plant and animal species arriving in a place where they do not naturally occur. The Cayman Islands regularly receives international cargo from ports in the United States, Jamaica, and others. International regulations for shipments dictate that biosecurity controls must be put in place to catch possible hitchhiking alien (non-native) species before they leave the port of origin, so the arrival of the iguana from Florida was unusual. However, sometimes animals or plants manage to circumvent these controls and sneak into shipping containers.
Similar incursions have occurred in the past from a variety of vendors/countries and, despite strong controls throughout the shipping process, there is always the chance that something can sneak in. The DoE said as such this was an excellent team effort resulting in the swift capture of this highly destructive invasive alien species which was already costing the Cayman Islands millions of dollars.
“When we are aware of the risks and best course of action if something like this happens, we can enjoy the benefit of globalisation and still protect our environment, communities, and cultures,” the DoE posted on Facebook. “Who knows what else could sneak into containers, planes and baggage in the future? Individual citizens and local businesses all contribute to the success of biosecurity, not only from international destinations but also with inter-island travel and shipping.”
The DoE said when shipping cargo to the Sister Islands or when travelling inter-island, people should make sure that nothing is hiding between their cargo or luggage.