Invasive pests hitchhike around the globe in and on the agricultural products we import. They also travel on and in the millions of rail wagons, trailers and sea cargo containers that crisscross our oceans and continents on trains, trucks and ships. Once introduced, invasive pests are very difficult and expensive to control or eradicate. They can severely damage agricultural production, affect property values, and reduce water availability and quality. The total cost of lost revenue and clean-up can run into billions of dollars.
To protect North American agriculture, forestry and natural resources against the introduction of invasive pests and diseases, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) have worked with U.S. and Canadian border protection agencies, shippers, and global shipping companies to develop the following guidance for cleaning and inspecting sea containers. This guidance complements the International Maritime Organization’s Code of Practice for Packing Cargo Transport Units (CTU Code). Everyone involved in moving containers has an opportunity to protect our crops, forests, and livestock by ensuring that containers and their cargo are free from unwanted plants, plant products, insects, snails, soil, animals and animal droppings.
Invasive pests threaten crops, forests, and livestock. They also have a very real impact on trade. When a contaminated container is found in port, the cargo owner, importer, or shipper can expect:
By taking reasonable steps to keep containers and their cargo clean, you will help prevent the spread of invasive pests through commerce and facilitate the movement of your containers through North American ports. As a result, you may experience:
The risk for pests to contaminate containers and cargo is greatest at the packing location. Shippers or packers acting on behalf of shippers should put measures in place to minimize pest contamination during packing. Others in the supply chain should also put measures in place to reduce the risk of pest contamination while the container is in their control. These measures should be in accordance with individual roles and responsibilities in the supply chain and should take into consideration all safety and operational constraints.
Measures may include: