How we're staying #BMSBfree
With stink bug season in full swing, we have introduced a range of processes both at our terminals and onboard vessels to help ensure products arrive pest-free at Oceania. Here, employees at the frontline of the fight against the invasive species explain why preparation underlies our great track record in tackling the threat.
Ensuring our customers deliver pest-free products is a priority for us. From the strict requirements we impose regarding certified treatment, to our continuous communication with customers about the regulations, we go above and beyond to ensure everyone involved in the supply chain is working towards the common goal of preventing stink bugs reaching Australia and New Zealand.
We only accept cargo for shipping to Oceania that has been certified according to the Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment and Ministry of Primary Industries regulations, and we continue to take additional measures to ensure that all cargo onboard our vessels is free of biosecurity risk, whether at our terminals, during transit and on arrival at the destination port.
Preparations at terminals
Preparations to deal with the stink bug threat at our terminals begin well in advance of the season.
There are now 7,900 square metres of fumigation and heat treatment facilities at our dedicated treatment facility at the port of Zeebrugge, where tens of thousands of units of cargo have been treated. A number of improved processes have been put in place, explains the terminal’s general manager Emmanuel Van Damme, including hard stops to avoid non-treated cargo being placed onboard a vessel, and a redesign of the terminal for improved segregation of cargo, which reduces the risk of cross-contamination. All of this activity is captured and controlled by our global iTOMs terminal system, which was introduced at Zeebrugge.
At our stink bug fumigation and heat treatment centres in Baltimore, we have added insulation and replaced heaters and doors to make treatment more sustainable and efficient.
“When it comes to stink bugs, there is too much risk and potential cost for our customers and us to not be ahead of the game,” says WW Ocean head of terminals Brett Bennett.
Preparations on the vessel
Preparation for stink bugs doesn’t begin and end at the terminal, however. As Sunil Dhowan, head of port and cargo operations, Oceania, explains: “We need all legs of the logistics chain to manage biosecurity – from the customer’s factory and transport to the terminal and vessels themselves.”
The aim is always to deal with any bugs prior to the products being loaded onboard a vessel. But an extensive biosecurity management plan has also been developed to treat vessels before loading, which includes cleaning, inspections and insecticide spraying.
During transit, crew members conduct daily stink bug inspections on all cargo decks and vessels send ‘Daily Bug’ search reports via an online reporting system, which is tracked to ensure any bug activity is monitored. Vessel cargo holds are also fogged to rouse any remaining hibernating bugs so they can be dealt with prior to arrival in Oceania.
What happens in Australia and New Zealand?
“Before cargo is discharged in Oceania, insecticide spraying and fogging of decks takes place in transit ports to ensure no live bugs are present,” explains Dhowan.
A regulatory report is then provided to the authorities in Oceania, which is assessed before directions for berthing are issued. On arrival, quarantine inspectors carry out a thorough inspection before permission is given to allow products to be discharged.
“We have put contingency plans with certified treatment providers in place to deal with any incidents,” adds Dhowan.
Ultimately, when it comes to stink bug season, it pays to be prepared.
“By reviewing the prior season’s performance, enhancing our processes and introducing new technologies, we have been able to provide effective treatment while meeting the growing volume demands and needs of our customers,” explains Bennett.