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Jersey to host British-Irish Council meeting on Asian hornets

10 September 2018

Jersey will be hosting a British-Irish Council (BIC) Environment Sector officers’ technical workshop next week to discuss the Asian hornet Vespa velutina.

The meeting, on Tuesday 11 and Wednesday 12 September, will enable officers from the Channel Islands, Isle of Man, Ireland, the UK and France, as well as scientists and Jersey experts, to share their ideas and experiences on the detection and control of Asian hornet. In addition, the technical workshop will discuss how the Jersey Invasive Species Strategy, which is currently being prepared, will support contingency plans for this and other key invasive species.

Willie Peggie, Director, Natural Environment, said: "We are holding this meeting because, as the most southerly jurisdiction, we are the first to be significantly affected by Asian hornets as they move northwards with the changing climate. I know that the officers from the other jurisdictions already regard Jersey’s operation as best practice and will want to know how they can adopt our methodologies, although I’m sure that we can learn from them too. Efforts to improve detection, tracking and nest finding have evolved over 2017 and 2018, and being able to draw on the experiences of those working in Jersey, other Channel Islands and our neighbours in Europe will undoubtedly inform plans for the future and help the UK with the emerging threat from mainland Europe."

Jersey has developed an innovative joint approach in which the States and island volunteers work together to locate and destroy nests, and investment has been made in equipment and training.

"We should all be proud of our public/private partnership, and what it has achieved to date," Mr Peggie said. "However we have to accept that the eradication of Asian hornets is not a realistic goal as Jersey is most likely to be reinvaded by queen hornets from France each spring. Instead we must help Jersey beekeepers to adapt their management strategies to keep their bee colonies and apiaries as safe as possible, and the States must build the expertise, infrastructure and capability to react rapidly to reports of nests that might pose public health risks."

Discussions are underway over the funding needed to ensure that the current process can become properly established, and so that the longer-term Jersey Invasive Species Strategy, which will deal with the multitude of invasive species likely to threaten Jersey in the coming years, can be implemented.

The BIC meeting has been planned for some time and follows a BIC workshop on invasive species, held in Edinburgh in October 2017, which focussed on collaboration in preventing the introduction and spread of invasive species.

The first Asian hornets were seen in the Channel Islands in 2016 following their spread through France, where they had been accidentally introduced in 2004. The number of insects and nest sightings in Jersey has increased exponentially despite the efforts of Natural Environment, the Jersey Beekeepers Association, researchers and volunteers.

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