Ships provide ideal conditions that allow pests to multiply and thrive, with the danger of transmitting serious diseases to crew and passengers. Ships can also transport pests to countries where they have no natural predators. More importantly, the transport of pests could introduce new diseases to these countries.
The shipping industry is the most demanding sector, as it has very specific requirements regarding pest management that goes beyond the challenge that might apply to other businesses .
Restrictions: limited time at any port of call and must be stocked and serviced in a limited time frame.
Presence of crew and passengers: Pest management is often done while cargo and foodstuffs are loaded in the presence of crew and even passengers. In such a case, the survey and the action plan have to be fast and precise. The proper method of control for the targeted pest and the application of the most appropriate pesticide (including the area to be treated and the dosage) must have the least impact on people, livestock, foodstuffs or other sensitive cargo, yet still be effective.
Inaccessible spaces: There are many inaccessible spaces in vessels which may harbour pests. Special care must be taken to those areas so the pests will be detected and treated.
Presence of stagnant water: Around the ship such as on lifeboat covers, awnings, gutters and open containers, standing water encourages presence of mosquito larvae.
Introduction of pests through cargo and food supplies: Ships load cargo and food supplies from various sources and suppliers which may practice substandard hygiene.
Introduction of pests through ports: Pests can enter through the ship’s open spaces such as doors, ramps and portholes as well as by accessing the ship through ropes tied to the pier. Because many kinds of ships reach ports from different areas of the world to load or unload their cargo, port areas generally pose a high risk of infestation. Ports also store large amounts of food, such as in granaries, which attracts pests and harbours them.
Introduction of pests through passengers and crew: Ships are continuously exposed to numerous passengers and/or crew with their luggage, which increases the likelihood of introducing pests to the ship.
Dangers caused by infested ships:
Consumption of food that contains human enteropathogens transmitted by cockroaches, flies, etc.
Person to person transmission (e.g. scabies – a disease caused by mites, or typhus that gets passed on to humans by lice, etc.)
Transport of pests: The transport of pests to countries where they have no natural predators can upset the natural balance in the environment and introduce new diseases to these countries such as malaria, which is carried by mosquitoes.