By DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
THE docking and offloading of dunnage from a cargo vessel in Freeport with a shipment of wood infested with an invasive beetle have raised concerns among Bahamians who are calling for a huge fine to be levied on the owners of the vessel.
The Asian beetle is of the Cerambycidae family and is native to China and the Korean peninsula. It destroys crops and trees. The vessel, which was denied entry in the US by Federal Agents near New Orleans, left US waters on July 21 for Freeport for wood disposal services.
The vessel, “Pan Jasmine,” was allegedly docked at Bradford Marine, and the contaminated shipment was offloaded and transported to the landfill at Sanitation Services.
Environmentalist Joseph Darville is outraged and has called on Bahamian authorities to investigate the matter. He said it is believed the vessel failed to disclose that the cargo was contaminated and was brought for disposal.
Bahamians are also weighing in on the situation.
“It seems like our customs and border security are useless,” one person commented
Another individual commented: “Because they didn’t declare this serious infestation to us, I assume that they will never be allowed to enter our waters again and that a large fine will be sent to their head office?”
A third person said if the ship comes back in Bahamian waters it should be impounded. “There should be a massive fine for this,” the individual said.
Another person indicated that these things happen all the time. “Our government never does a thing about it. Landscape companies routinely import banned plants, ships routinely discard dunnage with no inspections or approvals by customs.”
A fifth person suggested that the shipment be burned immediately.
“It is probably a good idea to stop dunnage offloads, it's not exactly a huge business. Just stop allowing it,” the individual said.
Joseph Darville is chairman of Save the Bays, an environmental group in the Bahamas.