A member who called at Shanghai, a high risk area for Asian gypsy moths could not obtain an AGM inspection and certification due to COVID-19 restrictions imposed that would not allow for inspections to be performed. But they are in need of an AGM-free certificate prior to calling at any other port after visiting a high risk area. Hence they were in a dilemma and approached BIMCO with the following queries:
- How to obtain an AGM certificate issued under such circumstances
- What are the consequences for calling a port without such certificate
- Where to obtain contact details of the companies that could issue AGM-free certificate
Our general advice given to the member was that it would depend on where they are calling next as obtaining an AGM-free certificate would depend on the requirements imposed by the next port of call.
Presently, only US in particularly, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), has issued guidance on this issue. In cases where ships are unable to obtain AGM certification due to COVID 19 restrictions, the ships should take the following measures:
- Consider another port for inspection and certification
- Obtain written notice of refusal
- Prior to entering US waters, to email AGM@USDA.gov to inform APHIS ( the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service) of refusal, including written notice of refusal and a list of planned U.S. ports of call
- Conduct in depth self-inspection en route
Notwithstanding the above, the USDA emphasised that all ships must arrive in US ports, free of AGM and should be inspected and certified free of AGM prior to entering United States (U.S.) waters, otherwise delays would be expected or ships ordered out of US waters if AGM is detected on the ship.
As for the last query pertaining to contact details of companies which conduct inspection and issue AGM free certificates, the member was advised to refer to our homepage/AGM section where such information can be found under ” Phytosanitary Certificates and Pre-departure Inspection Certificates“.
In conclusion, members are advised to check on their next port of call to determine the AGM requirements required should they experience a similar situation as mentioned above.