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Sea Containers

Reducing the Spread of Invasive Pests by Sea Containers - The IPPC leaflet has been developed on the basis of the IPPC guidance entitled Sea containers supply chains and cleanliness. The publication showcases how keeping containers and cargos clean can reduce the spread of invasive plant pests and diseases by illustrating all the recommended actions to be taken at key interchange points to protect plant health.

Sea Container Supply Chains and Cleanliness - This IPPC Guidance identifies the key parties involved in the international container supply chains, and describes their roles and responsibilities for minimizing visible pest contamination of sea containers and their cargoes, and best practices they may follow to meet that objective.There are various points in the container supply chains where the custody of a container changes (these are called “interchange points”). The associated best industry practices that are based on the guidance from the IMO (International Maritime Organization)/ILO (International Labour Organization) /UNECE (United Nations Economic Commission for Europe)’s Code of Practice for Packing of Cargo Transport Units (“CTU Code”), may be followed in order to minimise visible pest contamination and thereby reduce the risk of pest introduction by containers moving internationally.

The Sea Containers Task Force Generic Presentation - is available to and could be used by all interested stakeholders to raise awareness of the phytosanitary risks associated with the movement of sea containers and their cargoes.

The IPPC Guidelines on Sea Container Surveys for NPPOs - The IPPC Guidelines on Sea Container Surveys provide guidance to national plant protection organizations (NPPOs) on how to inspect and record contamination details in a consistent and harmonized manner when undertaking the sea container cleanliness surveys. The Guidelines have been developed by the Sea Container Task Force (SCTF) - a sub-group of the IPPC Implementation and Capacity Development Committee (IC). The Guidelines and accompanying excel sheets for recording and reporting information, as well as building a database useful for analysis are available in all FAO languages.

The IPPC factsheet on the Sea Containers Cleanliness -The factsheet has been prepared by the IPPC Secretariat in collaboration with the SCTF. The factsheet aims to raise awareness of risks that huge volumes of trade goods and produce moving internationally in Sea Containers pose as potential pathways for the spread of pests, which could result in huge costs to affected areas not only in monetary terms but also to food security, agriculture and the environment. The shipping industry and the IPPC have worked together to develop guidelines for the management of this risk, most importantly inspection and cleaning of containers. Anyone involved in moving containers is encouraged to ensure that they are free of plant pests as described in the factsheet.

The Sea Containers Task Force (SCTF), IC Sub-group, supervises the actions contained in the Sea Containers Complementary Action Plan for Assessing and Managing the Pest Threats Associated with Sea Containers, under the oversight of the IC. For more information on the IC Sub-group Sea Containers Task Force, please visit the IC Sub-group SCTF page.

The Implementation and Capacity Development Committee (IC) at their second meeting established the Sea Containers Task Force as an IC Sub-group and approved :

CPM12 April 2017 Decisions on Sea containers

The CPM12 discussed and endorsed Sea Containers - Complementary Action Plan presented by the Secretariat.
The outcomes of CPM12 discussions are available here.

CPM11 April 2016 Decisions and Activities on Sea Containers

A special topics session on the issue of sea containers was held during the CPM11 . Presentations were given by NPPOs, relevant international organizations and stakeholders involved in the movement of sea containers.

The presentations outlined the complex logistics of the movement of sea containers and the potential risk of the spread of pests. There was extensive discussion on possible options:

  • Continuing the development of the standard;
  • Changing the status of the topic to “pending”; or
  • Deleting the topic from the work programme of the Standards Committee.

Most CPs were in favour of moving the standard to pending as they felt more time was required to assess and address the potential pest risk with the tools available (e.g. CTU code , CPM Recommendation on Sea Containers). Other CPs felt that the CTU code was a useful tool but an ISPM would be complementary in providing NPPOs with guidance on monitoring.

The CPM11:

  • Recognized the risk of pests and regulated articles, other than cargo, that can be moved with sea containers.
  • Agreed that the harmonization of requirements through the development of a draft ISPM on minimizing pest movement by sea containers (2008-001) is considered as complex to achieve.
  • Recognized that the implementation of the IMO/ILO/UNECE CTU Code, and of the Recommendation CPM 10/2015_01 on Sea Containers would help address the risks of sea containers being contaminated.
  • Agreed that the status of the topic on Minimizing Pest Movement by Sea Containers (2008-001) should be changed to pending and reconsidered by the CPM in maximum five years, to allow for the implementation of the CTU Code and Recommendation CPM 10/2015_01 and an analysis of their impact on reducing pest movement by sea containers.
  • Agreed that some coordinated actions should be considered for assessing and addressing the pest risks associated with sea containers.
  • Encouraged NPPOs to gather information on the movement of pests via the sea containers to help clarify the risk.
  • Requested the Bureau (at its June 2016 meeting) to consider the development of a "set of complimentary actions" which, combined, may offer some value in assessing and managing the pests threats associated with sea containers and to propose such a possible program of complimentary actions to CPM-12 (2017).
  • Encouraged interested parties and CPs to submit discussion papers by 15 May 2016 to the IPPC Secretariat for the CPM Bureau to consider.

All presentations and discussion papers presented to the CPM11 are available through this link.

CPM Bureau June 2016 Meeting Decisions on Sea Containers

At its June 2016 meeting the CPM Bureau discussed development of a ‘set of complementary actions’ on sea containers based on the CPM11 decisions.

The Bureau proposed the following complimentary actions:

  • Development of a joint IPPC/IMO/industry protocol on data generation to be completed by CPM-16 (2021).
  • Monitor the uptake and implementation of the CTU shipping code through industry reporting and NPPO monitoring.
  • Verify the efficacy of the CTU shipping code in ensuring the arrival of clean sea container through monitoring for pest contamination and freedom of soil by NPPOs.
  • Increasing awareness of pest risks of sea container through publication of the data of the EWG by the IPPC, call for and publication of pest risk management guidance material for sea containers, notification to industry on the pest risks and possible international actions by NPPOs, and consideration of consistency of relevant regulation with the CPM Recommendation related to sea containers.
  • Establishment of a Task Force (under the guidance of the CDC/IC)which is complementing and supervising the actions above through: providing information on pest risks and its management of sea containers, coordinating with CPs, RPPOs, industry and other international organizations, establishing reports for the CPM and CPs on progress and achievements, advice on how the sea container CTU code or any other instrument could be updated, and provide a final report on its activities to CPM 16 (2021).
  • The Task Force should have members from CPs knowledgeable in IPPC matters and sea container logistics. It should have industry experts and other relevant international organizations. The Task Force may consult experts on sea containers, such as ex EWG members, as required.

The Bureau recommended that resources are provided by CPs or industry to the IPPC to facilitate the work taking into account the future funding model of the ePhyto project.

CDC 9th Meeting, December 2016, Decisions on Sea Containers

At its December 2016 meeting the CDC performed exercises to:

  • Discuss the establishment of the task force and the mechanism for complementing and supervising the actions recommended by the Bureau.
  • Determine an action plan and prioritize actions in terms of feasibility and costs.
  • Discuss and propose the membership of the task force and propose the actions necessary to accomplish the tasks outlined.
  • Explore options and recommend how this task force and its activities could be financed.
  • Recommend how this task force would function within the framework of the proposed implementation committee.

The outcomes of discussions were transferred to the CPM Bureau to be presented to the CPM12.

IMO/ILO/UNECE Code of Practice for Packing of Cargo Transport Units (CTU Code)

Many incidents in transport are attributed to poor practices in the packing of cargo transport units, including inadequate securing of the cargo, overloading and incorrect declaration of contents. This is of major concern particularly because the victims may be the general public or transport and supply chain workers, who generally have no control over the packing of such units.

The CTU Code, a joint publication of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), addresses these concerns through a non-mandatory global code of practice for the handling and packing of shipping containers for transportation by sea and land.

The CTU Code was endorsed by the IMO Maritime Safety Committee, the UNECE Inland Transport Committee and the ILO Governing Body in 2014. More information is also available on the UNECE website.

The specific parts of interest for phytosanitary aspects are chapter 3, chapter 4, chapter 8 (sections, and, Annex 6, Annex 7 and Annex 9.

For more information, see also Informative material related to the CTU Code.

Background information on the development of the draft ISPM on Minimizing pest movement by sea containers is available here.

This web page was last updated on 2020-06-27. For further information please contact Artur.Shamilov @fao.org.

Materials on Sea Containers from Different Meetings

Título Archivos Publications date
Complementary Action Plan for Assessing and Managing the Pest Threats Associated with Sea Containers En 04 Jul 2017
Reducing the Spread of Invasive Pests by Sea Containers - IPPC Factsheet
10 May 2020
Sea Containers task Force - Generic Presentation En 04 Nov 2019
Sea Container Supply Chains and Cleanliness - IPPC Best Practice Guide
10 May 2020
Findings from the 2019 Sea Container Questionnaire on Monitoring of Sea Container Cleanliness
10 May 2020
IPPC Guidelines on Sea Container Surveys for NPPOs
10 May 2020
2011-11 Container Owner's Presentation to SCSC
03 Dic 2012
2012-09 Cool Logistics Sea Container Presentation En 03 Dic 2012
2012-06 EWG presentation to COA
05 Dic 2012
Code of Practice for Packing of Cargo Transport Units (CTU Code)- IMO/ILO/UNECE
10 Feb 2014
2011-12 Background documents on sea containers provided by NPPOs
31 Dic 2011

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