Wilhelmsen insights

Pest inspection requirements in the maritime industry

The maritime industry is the most dangerous sector for spreading various exotic pest species around the world, hence insects or their egg masses can be easily carried on ships and in cargo unnoticed.
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Wilhelmsen insights |
Mateusz Irek , Analyst, Port Knowledge Team


In order to prevent devastating effects on plant resource bases, forests, construction industries and native animal species, agriculture departments of exposed countries have introduced pest inspection requirements. All governments operate with one universal rule – it is much more convenient to prevent pests from entering the country than spending millions on exterminating operations. Furthermore, there are plenty of documented cases where exotic insect species, once settled in specific country, settled for good and despite multiple extermination attempts were never completely eliminated.

What are the most commonly required pest inspection certificates?

Asian Gypsy Moth (AGM) - highly ruinous forest pests which may feed on hundreds of plant species, negatively affecting agricultural and natural resources. AGM are able to fly over 40 km, their egg masses thrown overboard may float to shore and still be able to develop and spread. Their endemic areas are Russian Far East, Korea, Northern China and Japan. AGM females are active in specific eastern Asia ports between May and October, however heightened surveillance period is different for each country.

Burnt Pine Longicorn Beetle – insects that have devastating effects on forest and construction industries, causing serious damage to tree trunks. The most exposed are vessels carrying wood, paper and machinery. The Longicorn Beetle can be found in New Zealand, United Kingdom, Europe, Russia, North Africa, Syria and Israel.

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug – agricultural pest accidentally introduced to United States in 1998. The insect feeds mostly on apples, peaches, figs, mulberries, citrus fruits, ornamental plants, weeds and beans. Female Stink Bugs are capable of deploying four hundred eggs during their lifetime. Their endemic areas are China, Taiwan and Japan.

Thyrinteina Arnobia – insect causing significant losses to eucalyptus and citric trees, forestry and some agricultural species in Southern America. All vessels arriving from Brazilian and Ecuadorian ports are subject to heightened risk of carrying pest or egg masses.

What requirements should we expect in specific countries?


An Asian Gypsy Moth inspection certificate is not compulsory, however all vessels calling Australian ports will be subject to a heightened risk surveillance window between 9 January and 31 May. Ships are required to declare on pre-arrival report if the ship has called at high risk ports in Russian Far East between 40ºN, 60ºN and west of 147ºE, during any period between 1 July and 30 September within last two years. In case AGM is revealed during inspection, specific extermination measures will be taken. Ships calling Australian ports are also subject to inspection for Burnt Pine Longicorn Beetle for ships coming from New Zealand and Brown Marmorated Stink Bug. Government departments responsible for biosecurity will take all necessary actions to prevent or respond to any pests and diseases that threaten the economy and environment.


All vessels that have called in ports with AGM regulated endemic areas are obligated to notify the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) 96 hours prior to arrival and provide a list of all port calls from the past two years along with phytosanitary certificate. Vessels without valid inspection certificates will not be permitted to enter Canadian ports. High risk periods for AGM at Western Canadian ports are between 1 March and 15 September; at Eastern Canadian ports between 15 March and 15 September.


Ships that have visited AGM endemic areas during female flight season must acquire a phytosanitary certification by an authorized entity. List of all port calls from the past two years must be provided at least 24 hours before calling a Chilean port. Chilean Agricultural and Livestock Service may carry out random inspections even if vessel has not visited an endemic AGM area. All vessels that have called Ecuadorian ports must be inspected for Thyrinteina Arnobia upon arrival at a Chilean port. Containers with fruits or vegetables will require special attention, including external and internal condition of cargo.


New Mangalore, Paradip, Vizag, Haldia: There are various types of pest control services which are undertaken on board vessel such as disinfestation (general pest control), rodent control, termite control, and bed bugs control. These services are conducted by residual spraying/sprinkling method of contact insecticides for knock down effect and in case of rodent/rat control measures, it involves the application of glue sticky trapping pads. The time required for the pest control service is between two to 24 hours depending on the treatment. Necessary inspection report certificates and safety instructions will be handed over to the Master of the vessel by the pest control vendor before starting the treatment. The necessary permission for performing inspection will be obtained from Port and Customs by the pest control vendor.

Goa: The Port Health Officer is the authorized entity for Health and Sanitary inspections on board the vessel to perform required verification and to take remedial measures when deficiency is noted. This inspection is usually done on arrival of the ship. This enables the Master of a ship to rectify the defects noticed during inspection before departure. If the Port Health Officer is not satisfied with the sanitary and hygienic conditions on board the ship, amendments will be recommended according to the PHO guidelines. Pest control services are provided at Marmugao Port by a reliable vendor.

Kandla: Pest management certificates and services generally required on board vessel including fore decks, aft-decks, crew cabins, mess rooms, galleys, provision store rooms and toilet blocks are: cockroach management, rodent management, bed bug management, fly management, fumigation of dry/wet provision store rooms, fumigation of hatch holds, and AGM inspection and certification.

All vessels with Indian flag or foreign flag are obligated to follow the above mentioned regulations and guidelines.

New Zealand

All vessels that have visited the following countries within a specified risk period will be subject to AGM spread prevention measures: Russian Far East (excluding Kamchatka Peninsula ports) between 1 July and 30 September, China (North of 31°15’ N latitude) between 1 July and 30 September, Korea between 1 July and 30 September and Japan between 25 May and 30 September. Prevention measures will include obtaining pre-departure certification from the previous port and providing one year of port of call data. Furthermore, all vessels without a valid certificate will be subject to inspection.

The Ministry for Primary Industries also warns against Brown Marmorated Stink Bug as an unwanted organism in New Zealand. All signs of this insect or its egg masses should be reported and appropriate measurements must be taken.

United States of America

The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service requires all vessels that have called ports in the Far Easting during flight season to declare a list of port calls from the past two years and a pre-arrival phytosanitary certificate to the agent at least 96 hours prior to arrival in US territorial waters. The following locations are considered as high risk areas: Russian Far East between 15 July and 30 September, South Korea and Northern China between 1 June and 30 September and Japan during annually varying flight periods. An AGM detection will result in dismissing vessel into international waters to undergo required disinfection. Vessels calling US ports during the low risk period will not require inspection, however it is strongly recommended.

What can you proactively do to avoid negative effects of pest detection on your vessel?

We strongly recommend conducting of self-inspections in order to prevent port entry denials, avoid operational delays and costly disinfections. This is the first line of defense for the vessel to report any infestation on board, so information and advice regarding vessel preparation upon calling designated port can be provided.

Equipment necessary for such inspection should be available on every vessel:

  • Binoculars to inspect elevated areas
  • Extendable mirror to safely check unreachable places
  • Knife to scrape off egg masses
  • Flashlight
  • Pest spray to disinfect areas after removing insects or egg masses

The person conducting self-inspection should focus on areas exposed to light, deck edges, safety rails and supports, cables, masts, behind walls, on ropes, inside cargo, underneath objects, inside air vents, vessel smoke stacks, on the outside hull and remaining hard to reach locations. If egg masses are detected, do not throw them overboard, do not use high pressure water to remove them and do put paint over them. The best solution to dispose egg masses is to place them in alcohol, boil, freeze or burn them.

Note: Self-inspection should be treated only as prevention measurement which can save time and costs in case port inspection reveals pest aboard your vessel. In order to acquire a valid inspection certificate, always use authorized entities. 

To proactively prevent pest presence on board and keep your vessel in required sanitary conditions, following measurements should be applied on a regular basis: Supply of rat guards with lock system approved by the Port Health Organisation, multi rat trap cages with lock, rodenticides, rat & mice pheromone, AGM pheromone traps, fly catchers, boric acid with additives, sodium hypo chlorite or pyrethrum. Furthermore, the guidelines of IHR 2005, IMO, and WHO must be followed:

  1. Usage of pesticides not approved by WHO should not be applied on board.
  2. There are very limited areas/locations on board where pesticides could be applied.
  3. For cockroach management, only “boric acid mix” should be used in mess rooms and galleys. Crew members should be trained in preparation of the mix and application.
  4. Cockroach gel can be only applied in dry areas like cupboards, drawers, refrigerators, deep freezer etc.
  5. For rodent management, placing rodent traps for trapping of live rodents, application of baits on decks.
  6. For bed bug management, residual spraying of pyrethrum/propoxur.
  7. For fly management, installation of fly catchers, application of attractant with killer.
  8. Inspection report must to be submitted to PHO if the instruction for pest management is directed by the PHO
  9. Course of action to be submitted to PHO as per their directions.
  10. Work completion certificate to be submitted to the Captain of the vessel & PHO.
  11. MSDS of all materials used on board to be filed by the Captain/Chief Officer along with the certificate.

In order to further enhance vessel verification and certification processes in accordance with biosecurity policies in subject countries, the vessel should submit pre-departure certification to the relevant entity. However, unless there are government to government protocols in place, institutions responsible for biosecurity requirements in Australia, New Zealand and India will not accept outright any pre-departure inspections and certificates. Pre-departure documents will be accepted only as supporting documents in their assessment of a vessel calling the respective country. Pre-departure documents and certificates will be accepted in the United States of America, Canada and Chile, but only from a recognized certification body issued at the last port of call in a risk area. 

Need advice or inspection/certificate to be arranged? 

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Please note that the information provided hereby merely contains observations and forward-looking expectations which are subject to risk and uncertainties related to e.g. financial and market conditions in relevant markets and may otherwise be subject to change. The purpose of this information is to share insight, which has been reported through common sources or our network. The Wilh. Wilhelmsen Holding ASA group of companies undertakes no liability and makes no representation or warranty for the information and expectations given in this information or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided.

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