EU adopts stricter measures to combat Red Palm Weevil

The European Plant Health Standing Committee has voted to introduce stricter measures to combat Red Palm Weevil, Rhynchophorus ferrugineus.

 Red Palm Weevil (Rhynchophorus ferrugineus). Image: FERA
Red Palm Weevil (Rhynchophorus ferrugineus). Image: FERA

Though it has never been identified in the UK the pest has caused considerable problems for palm, date, coconut and areca palm growers in southern Europe and Fera Plant Health’s Richard McIntosh said it remained a threat.

"In essence, the new decision (an update to the 2007 decision) strengthens requirements on third-country imports (including a quarantine period under physical protection, if imported from an area where the pest is present). It Improves the reporting mechanism of outbreaks to the Commission and other MS and updates the list of species covered by the legislation (in response to findings)"

He said it was a response to scientific and technical developments, and experience, by facilitating tailor-made action plans in response to outbreaks. 

He added:  "In the event of outbreaks a demarcated area (infested zone plus buffer zone) of at least 10km must be established, in which eradication must be pursued, or where this has not been achieved over three years, containment may be pursued as an alternative."

The measures include a derogation on responding to findings in an infested imported consignment, where there has been no risk of spread. 

This will avoid unnecessary demarcation of areas, where there is good evidence that the pest has been intercepted without a risk of an outbreak.

The insect was introduced to the EU through imports of palm plants.

It has been found in all Mediterranean Member States (Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Malta, Portugal, Slovenia and Spain), causing concerns about the future of palms in these areas.

The Commission first adopted emergency measures to control the entry and spread of the insect in May 2007.

The updated Decision was approved at the SCPH on 25 June and will come into force once it has been published in the Official Journal of the EU.

For more information on the Community plant health regime, please see: http://ec.europa.eu/food/plant/organisms/index_en.htm


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