BAF and NFMV intensify their efforts to control the spread of the invasive American iguana within the quarantined area.
The long awaited for billboards highlighting the heavy penalties for trafficking the invasive pest, the now infamous American iguana (Iguana iguana) have been recently set up at ports of entry on Viti Levu, Taveuni and Qamea. The sole purpose of the billboards is to inform those travelling between islands, in and out of the Biosecurity Zone (Qamea, Taveuni, Laucala, and Matagi), that if an American iguana is discovered in their possession then they will be heavily penalised. The most severe penalty is a 15 year jail term; a fine of $250,000FJD will be imposed on a corporate body and $50,000FJD fine for an individual.
AIEC billboard along the main road on Taveuni Island.
Several Turaga ni Koro from villagers around Taveuni and Qamea Island have been appointed as Temporary Biosecurity Officers (TBOs) by the Biosecurity Authority of Fiji (BAF). The TBOs received training to identify and capture American iguanas from Nunia Thomas and Waisale Mataitoga from NFMV, and Ilaisa Dakaica from BAF. The appointment and training of the TBOs was overseen by Ro Aca Mataitini, the Roko Tui Cakaudrove based in Somosomo. The AIEC TBOs will be the task force's eyes and ears in the field. They will investigate reports of encounters with iguanas by villagers, and if necessary capture and kill the invasive iguanas. The TBOs will be supervised by the BAF permanent officer stationed at the Mua Operations Centre.
Ilaisa Dakaica, Nunia Thomas, Ro Aca Mataitini and Waisale Mataitoga at the Mua Office.
The appointment of the TBOs and the erection of the trafficking billboards are two important steps in the eradication campaign, and are indicative of the intensified effort to control the spread of the introduced iguana. The Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) has become increasingly supportive of the AIECs on the ground work, and have fast tracked the billboards and TBO appointments in recognition of the urgency of the matter. The spread of these iguanas has been highlighted by iguana expert, Rick van Veen's recent surveys and subsequent report (see link below), which were presented to the Permanent Secretary of Agriculture, Colonel Mason Smith.
TBOs with the Roko Tui Cakaudrove, Ro Aca Mataitini at Mua, Taveuni.
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