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Monitoring and surveillance

National plant health, or plant protection, activities such as pest surveys, pest and disease monitoring and the collation of pest databases are key elements of the technical resources of a biosecurity office.

These activities may not, however, be the sole responsibility of the biosecurity office and may require input from other divisions of the ministry responsible for agriculture, such as the extension service; or from specific crop researchers within the research service; or even outside agencies, such as the department responsible for the environment; or research institutes and universities.

Surveys may be conducted by a number of agencies, but the key element of this process is that the methodologies must meet the international guidelines of ISPM No 6: Guidelines for Surveillance. The biosecurity office has to determine if it is in a position to conduct surveys of the main commercial/exported crops and to maintain the data for future use. This is required so that the pest status can be supported with current data, which are needed by overseas countries to make pest risk analyses.

There are three types of surveys identified in the ISPM:

  • a delimiting survey – a survey conducted to establish the boundaries of an area considered to be infested by or free from a pest;
  • a detection survey – a survey conducted in an area to determine if pests are present; and
  • a monitoring survey – an ongoing survey to verify the characteristics of a pest population.

Monitoring also involves the detection of pests in consignments, both at export and at import. This provides useful information on the pest status of commodities, both locally and overseas.

In determining if surveys of pests should be conducted, the following issues should be considered:

  • Are surveys required to maintain export markets, as part of another country’s import risk analysis management decisions?

If so, then the type of survey and the frequency will be determined by the bilateral commodity agreement.

If not, you may still require surveys of local crops to determine if pests are being introduced on imported goods.


  • Who is to undertake the surveys and also identify any pests that might be detected?

This depends on the specialists who are available locally, or through collaboration with SPC. Note that surveys are very expensive activities.


  • Who is to maintain the specimens that are collected and who will maintain the database of the records?

The preference is for the specimens and records to be kept in the country, but this may not be possible where the technical expertise needed to curate the pests is not available. SPC maintains the Pacific Pest Database that builds on the survey work started in the 1970s.


  • Pest records are required to be reported, in accordance with the IPPC 1997 text (Art. VIII), so who has the responsibility to do this and how is it to be done?

Records can be reported in the literature, in newsletters or on an official website. The records could also be sent to SPC for inclusion in the Pacific Islands Pest List Database in order to comply with ISPM No 8: Determination of pest status in an area.

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