The Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries is launching the “Don’t Pack a Pest” outreach program in Trinidad. This program is a collaborative effort and formal partnership with the United States Department of Agriculture.
The official programme launch took place on May 25, 2018, at 9 a.m. in the VIP Lounge of the Piarco International Airport.
The programme is designed to raise public awareness regarding the risks associated with passengers potentially introducing pests and diseases into Trinidad, the United States and the Caribbean Region, by carrying agricultural and food items when they travel. Thousands of pounds of agricultural produce are confiscated at ports of entry from passengers daily. Some travelers are not aware these items are prohibited, while some knowingly attempt to bring these items into the countries. These uncertified items pose a serious threat to our food and fiber resources as exotic invasive pests can enter through this pathway and become established, causing millions of dollars to manage or eradicate. In addition, these unwanted invaders can result in loss of export markets due to quarantines and can negatively impact natural areas.
As a result of increased international travel, there is an urgent need to expand public outreach programmes throughout the region. It is essential to educate the traveling public concerning what they should know and what they can do to help protect agricultural and natural resources from exotic pests. If travelers know ahead of time what they can and cannot take in their baggage, they will avoid possible fines as well as having the items confiscated. The focus of this creative agricultural protection outreach program in the U.S. and the Caribbean is very appropriate as both are linked as high-risk areas that are vulnerable to new pest introductions through trade and tourism.
This programme will include the placement of signs at strategic areas in the Customs area of the Piarco International Airport, along with distribution of other public education materials to the travelling public. The signs, which feature Sassy the Suitcase, deliver a concise message: When You Travel, Declare Agricultural Items, Don’t Pack a Pest.
The signs and additional outreach materials were provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Thirty-one signs, located throughout the airport, were printed by a Trinidadian company. There are also several digital signs located throughout the airport.
Below are some images from the “Don’t Pack a Pest” launch: