(CMR) Residents are being reminded of the importance of biosecurity in the Cayman Islands following the capture of a stowaway green iguana in a container from Florida last month. Biosecurity refers to all measures that prevent non-native plant and animal species from arriving in a place where they do not naturally grow.
The Department of Environment (DoE) said the green iguana was found by the Foster's Supermarket team, who immediately closed the container and contacted the DoE. The animal was removed before it could escape.
The DoE said similar incursions have occurred in the past from a variety of vendors/countries, and that despite strong controls throughout the shipping process, there is always the chance that something can sneak in.
“As such, this was an excellent team effort resulting in the swift capture of this highly destructive invasive alien species which is already costing the Cayman Islands millions of dollars,” the DoE said in a post on Facebook
The Cayman Islands regularly receives international cargo from ports in the US, Jamaica, and other ports. International regulations for shipments dictate that biosecurity controls be put in place to catch possible hitchhiking alien (non-native) species before they leave the port of origin. However, sometimes animals or plants circumvent these controls and sneak into shipping containers anyway.
“When we are aware of the risks and best course of action if something like this happens, we can enjoy the benefit of globalization and still protect our environment, communities, and cultures. Who knows what else could sneak into containers, planes and baggage in the future? Individual citizens and local businesses all contribute to the success of biosecurity, not only from international destinations but also with inter-island travel and shipping.” the DOE stated.
The Department also warned that when shipping cargo to the Sister Islands or traveling inter-island, people should ensure that nothing is hiding between their cargo or luggage.