EUROPHYT Annual Report 2014 – Plant health interceptions in EU

EUROPHYT is the plant health interception, notification and rapid alert system for the EU Member States and Switzerland, managed by the European Commission.

This report presents key statistics on the 2014 notifications and provides analysis of trends in interceptions, based on annual figures from the period 2010-2014. In 2014, EUROPHYT received 6,662 notifications about consignments intercepted by the Member States and Switzerland due to non-conformity with EU requirements. The vast majority of which (96%) related to plants, plant products and objects from Third Countries (TCs).

The 2014 total was slightly down on the 2013 level (6,997).

Interceptions from Third Countries

In the case of goods from TC, approximately 37% of the interceptions were due to the presence of harmful organisms (HO), approximately 30% due to non-compliance of wood packaging material (WPM) with international phytosanitary requirements for the treatment of wood material (ISPM 15), and approximately 25% attributable to documentary problems.

For interceptions due to the presence of HOs, the main commodities intercepted were fruit and vegetables (73%), WPM (11%), cut flowers (7%) and planting material (4%). Almost two thirds of the HO interceptions related to nine TCs, each having more than 100 interceptions, namely, Ghana, Cambodia, India, China, Dominican Republic, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Uganda and Kenya. Seven commodities accounted for 71% of the interceptions on fruit and vegetables: mango, peppers, gourds (Momordica spp., Luffa spp.), basil, eggplant, and citrus fruit.

The consignments were mainly infested with non-European fruit flies, white flies and thrips. 2014 saw a very significant increase in the interceptions of false codling moth and this HO is being considered for listing as a regulated pest. Commission emergency measures with regard to citrus black spot on imports of citrus fruit from South Africa remained in place for the 2014 season. In spite of efforts made by South Africa to implement these measures, and other additional measures, there was only a limited decrease in the level of interceptions in 2014 compared to previous years.

The main sources of interceptions for the presence of HOs in Wood Packaging Material were China, India and Vietnam. There was a consistent increase in the number of HO interceptions associated with WPM from TCs since 2011. Most of the HO interceptions were attributable to India and China, where HOs continued to be encountered in ISPM 15 marked consignments, raising wider plant health and export system concerns from these TCs. The main HOs were longhorn beetles and other wood and bark insects, and pinewood nematodes. As regards cut flowers, the main HOs intercepted were Gypsophila spp., Rosa spp., Solidago spp., orchids, Eryngium spp. and Chrysanthemum spp., infested mainly with Liriomyza spp., Spodoptera spp., Thrips spp. and Bemisia spp. Bemisia tabaci (non-European populations) was the most intercepted HO with planting material.

In response to the risks posed by certain interceptions, the Commission took a number of measures to address the high level of interceptions from a number of TCs. These measures have resulted in a drop in the number of interceptions of imports from Cambodia, Thailand, Pakistan, India and the Dominican Republic. For other TCs, such as Ghana, Bangladesh and Uganda, there has been no improvement, or even deterioration despite measures taken.

Specific measures taken in relation to WPM from China have not yet resulted in a reduced level of interceptions. In the cases of China and India, there was a high number of interceptions due to the presence of HOs in WPM bearing the ISPM15 mark. This situation is a cause for concern as it means that the presence of the ISPM15 mark cannot always be taken as providing an assurance of compliance. Four HOs, considered not present or recorded from within the EU where intercepted for the first time in 2014: Tinthia cymbalistis, Psylliodes punctifrons, Acalolepta spp. and Anastrepha fraterculus. The second largest category of interceptions from TCs concerns non-compliance with the ISPM standard for the treatment of WPM (1,918 cases) originating mainly from Russia, USA, China, India, Turkey and Belarus. Such interceptions account for most of the interceptions from the Russian Federation (88%) and most of the interceptions from the USA and China (46% and 48% respectively).

Interceptions in intra-EU trade

As regards interceptions in trade between EU Member States, the number of intercepted consignments continued to decline. Interceptions concerned mainly planting material, followed by fruit and vegetables (including ware potatoes) and cut flowers. The overall decline reflects a reduction in interceptions of WPM and pinewood from Portugal and in ware potatoes from Poland demonstrating the effectiveness of improved control measures (the number of interceptions for the presence of ring rot reduced to one in 2014).

On the other hand, there were increased interceptions of commodities from NL most of which were of planting material with HOs, including Bemisia tabaci (intercepted by an EU protected zone for such), Phytophthora ramorum and a number of cases with Xylella fastidiosa (on ornamental coffee plants originating in Central America). Due to on-going efforts by MS the delays in making EUROPHYT notifications has decreased considerably since 2010, and appears to be stabilising at or around an EU average of 10 working days since 2012, although still above the two working days stipulated under EU legislation.

EU measures

New complimentary initiatives introduced by the Commission in 2014, including the publication on a non-EU trade Alert List, and the establishment of a Commission working group on Response to Emerging Risks from Imports (RERI), are helping the Commission, together with Member States, to timely identify where action needs to be taken to address risks from imports. In addition, the ongoing development of a HO outbreak database is anticipated to offer enhanced data management and plant health overview towards more integrated assessments of both import risk and outbreak management.

Notification of interceptions to the Commission

As regards notifications by Member States, 80% of all notifications were accounted for by nine MS and just three MS (UK, DE and NL) accounted for almost half of the total. Some MS (such as ES, IT, BE, GR, PT and RO) appear to have a low level of notifications relative to trade volumes.

(Source: DG Sante website)

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