Agriculture Ministry working to halt influx of illegal animals
Agriculture, Lands and Fisheries Minister Clarence Rambharat said his Ministry is working to stop an influx of illegal animals, produce and wildlife from Venezuela.
Speaking in response to an urgent question in Parliament on Friday, Rambharat said there has been increased surveillance in order to stem the illegal shipments.
“Of course there’s been a heightened risk in Venezuela on account of the increased movement and the responsibility for dealing with the patrol of the borders rests with the Minister of National Security.”
“The Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries has a supportive role, a technical role to provide advice and support to the Ministry of National Security, in particular, immigration and customs,” he said.
Rambharat said his Ministry has been providing increased support to the Ministry of National Security by increasing surveillance where farmers operate, in particular where the retail trade in meat takes place.
In addition, he said the Ministry has increased surveillance around the country and has also increased the relevant training for farmers. He said they have also issued material to the public entailing the risks of dealing with illegally imported animals.
“It is well known that the Ministry has been involved in intercepting a wide range of things, including over 600 kilogrammes of meat last year,” Rambharat said, adding that officials have also intercepted the illegal importation of wild animals being brought in on pirogues.
Rambharat said there has been no risk or instances of zoonosis, that is, diseases being transmitted from animals to humans.
“The big risk for us from Venezuela is Foot and Mouth Disease, and there is no sign of that in Trinidad and Tobago,” he said.
When asked what species of animals have been crossing the border Rambharat replied that a wide range of wildlife is being brought across, including agouti, tattoo, lappe, iguanas, livestock, sheep and goats.
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