Streamlining cross-border shipping of live invertebrates

  1. M. Wohlfarter, C.F. Oliva & C. Nelson

The logistics of shipping live invertebrates should be straightforward, requiring mainly good packaging to ensure survival and confinement, and timely delivery. The first points pertain to the shipper, whose interest is to maintain the highest quality of the product shipped and to ensure there will be no escapees, while the latter relies on the ability of the shipping agent to organize the fastest reliable route of transport and carriers to fulfil their function effectively.

This article explores this underserviced sector. While similar logistics capacity exists for other goods that require fast delivery (such as vaccines and fresh food), stakeholders who require timely, live invertebrate shipping often have difficulties in finding transport stakeholders able or willing to handle such services. We stress that fast delivery is key to ensure survival and quality of invertebrates and bring examples from the biocontrol field, showing the current complexity and inconsistency of logistics. For some countries and stakeholders, this issue can be a significant barrier to the growth of a sustainable biocontrol sector.

We also explore misconceptions (about packaging, liability, and paperwork) and unclear rules (generic veterinary certificates which are rarely relevant for most invertebrates) that may cause express courier companies to refuse carrying live invertebrates. These issues often result in packages not being handled as a priority during transport connections or customs clearance, and significant subsequent delivery delays.

This article proposes improvements that could streamline this kind of transport with changes that should fit within existing shipping processes. This article is furthermore intended as a call to transport and inspection stakeholders to use the existing guidance and other resources to support this underdeveloped sector more effectively.

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