ANSAN, Oct. 18 (Korea Bizwire) – Emergency quarantine protocols were put in place at the Port of Busan after foreign red fire ants were discovered at a nearby open-air yard for shipping containers late last month.
Questions over whether the protocols need to be expanded have been raised after a live lizard was discovered inside a container during unloading in Ansan.
The container was shipped from New Caledonia, a French territory in the South Pacific, and entered the country through the Port of Busan. From there, it was transported by rail to a cargo yard in Uiwang, where it was loaded and moved to its final destination by truck.
The shipment consisted of used and discarded batteries that were intended to be processed by an Ansan company.
The truck driver who delivered the container found the lizard while in the process of unloading the shipment. Critical of the lack of proper screening for imported shipments, the driver pointed out that while cargo exports go through an extensive screening procedure, it seemed like imports typically did not undergo any type of proper screening or even inspection.
The driver added that imports of leather goods not infrequently contained insects non-native to South Korea, and stressed that the entry of such creatures without a proper system in place was a cause for concern.
The issue of screening is more complex than it seems, with relevant authorities stating that implementing stricter measures can be misinterpreted by foreign trade partners as equivalent to putting up a trade barrier.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs shed further light on particulars of the situation by mentioning that among the vast majority of countries involved in maritime trade, only a select few like New Zealand have a screening process in place.
The spokesperson also revealed that the quarantine implemented after the discovery of the red fire ants had caused a delay in processing shipments and subsequently slowed cargo transport, a sore point for government workers who have reportedly been the target of “an extraordinary amount of complaints”.