When it comes to biosecurity, one of the biggest misconceptions is that it should be the shipping company that is supposed to be in charge of keeping cargo free from contamination. The truth is much more complicated and it may actually put this responsibility more heavily on the shipping customer.
Because as the shipping customer, it is you who made the decision to transport cargo from originating countries that may harbor these pests and are actually in the best position in the supply chain to manage decontamination prior to loading.
But rather than see this as an inconvenience that makes you the subject of blame, think of it as a duty. In fact, it is not merely a duty to your local environment. The very environmental impact of invasive species also has dire consequences for the nation’s economy and ultimately will affect everyone’s business (not just yours).
Take, for example, the current biosecurity threat: The brown, marmorated stink bug.
Most people assume that this invasive species are a problem because they think one native species or another is going to be displaced, driven to extinction, preyed upon etc. But in reality, the real damage comes in even more direct ways such as:
- Damage to Agriculture
Stink bugs, particularly, have been known to damage quite a handful of crops should they be allowed to proliferate. These include corn, peppers, and several varieties of fruits and vegetables.
As with any invasive insect species, stink bugs have larvae and that is always bad news for anyone working in agriculture. Native pests are problematic enough without the addition of foreign ones joining their lineup.
- Higher Pesticide Use
An introduction of foreign pests will obviously mean increased use of pest control among affected industries (as well as households). And again, the problem goes far beyond the environmental impact.
Increased use of pesticides will mean increased business costs for farmers, which can also spell problems for the national economy. It can even be further argued that the combined cost of total pest control outweighs that of industries who incur fees for the process of decontaminating cargo.
- Damage to Shipping
Lastly, as recent legislations have already demonstrated, shipping companies have higher incentives to actually reject cargo and customers who are lax in their compliance with biosecurity regulations.
It is important to remember that a shipping company is only responsible for presenting cargo that would meet the biosecurity regulations of their destination countries. The actual process of cleaning it from contaminants still rests on the customer.
But if a customer neglects this responsibility, the integrity of the shipping partner is also compromised and it can have a devastating domino effect if it continues to plague their industry as a whole.
It is true that shipping customers wouldn’t have to seek out logistics partners if they still had to do a lot of heavy work documenting and safeguarding their transported cargo. However, a special exemption must be made when it comes to applying treatments that decontaminates cargo from invasive species.
Customers have to handle this process themselves because they are in the right stage of the supply chain to see it done. And as a side note, performing such processes yourself also grants you supporting certificates declaring you had done your duty (and ensures the work you put into keeping the cargo clean is not compromised by a shipper’s neglect either)!