Cayman Islands expected to join “Don’t Pack a Pest” Program
May 9, 2014
Signage and videos may appear at Cayman ports of entry by July
Members of a delegation that visited the Cayman Islands this week expect the Cayman Islands will be the next Caribbean nation to become a partner in the Don’t Pack a Pest Program, an effort to stem the international movement of invasive pests and diseases by increasing travelers’ awareness of the importance of declaring agricultural items in their luggage. The federally funded program is administered by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services in partnership with the USDA and Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
The group met this week with the Cayman Island’s Ministry of Agriculture, Governor and Cabinet, air- and cruise lines and port authority.
“We expect the Don’t Pack a Pest signage and videos will be in place at airports in the Cayman Islands by July,” said FDACS-DPI Public Information Officer Denise Feiber, who administers the program. “Don’t Pack a Pest will continue to seek partnerships with other Caribbean nations.”
The Cayman Islands will join Jamaica, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and the U.S. Virgin Islands as partners in the program, which delivers the “Don’t Pack a Pest” message via signage at international airports, billboards along Florida highways, print advertising and videos playing at airports and aboard some airline flights. A 2013 survey showed international travelers are increasingly recognizing, understanding and responding to the message, “When you travel, declare agricultural items. Don’t Pack a Pest.”
In addition to meeting with other nations in the Caribbean, the team will seek to add Port Canaveral, the Port of Tampa, and Tampa International and Sanford International airports to the program in the near future.
International travelers unwittingly introduce invasive pests and diseases by transporting agricultural materials in luggage. The negative consequences of invasive species are far-reaching, costing the United States billions of dollars in damages every year. Compounding the problem is that these harmful invaders spread at astonishing rates. Such infestations of invasive plants and animals can negatively affect property values, agricultural productivity, public utility operations, native fisheries, tourism, outdoor recreation, and the overall health of an ecosystem.
The most widely referenced paper on this issue (Pimental et al. 2005) calculates that invasive species cost the United States more than $120 billion in damages every year. Florida, with its proliferation of air- and seaports that welcome millions of travelers annually, is especially vulnerable to invasive insects, plants and diseases.