Invasive species management in Mauritius: from the reactive to the proactive - the National Invasive Species management strategy and its implementation.
This account provides the context behind the need to implement an integrated, cross-sectoral approach to Invasive Alien Species (IAS) management in the Republic of Mauritius (RoM). The challenge of increased travel, tourism and transport is enumerated and the history of IAS entry, establishment and spread in the RoM before and since the formulation of the National Invasive Alien Species Strategy and Action Plan for the Republic of Mauritius (NIASSAP) (2010-2019) is reviewed to judge the effectiveness of biosecurity measures at the national and sub-national level. New incursions appear to have increased since 2010. Examples include, the papaya mealybug (Paracoccus marginatus; 2013), the Oriental fruit fly (Bactrocera dorsalis), a species that had previously been eradicated from the island (2013 and 2015) and foot and mouth disease (FMD) (Aphthae epizooticae; 2016). There have been some effective responses. A biological control agent was released against the papaya mealybug and fruit production has recovered, FMD has been eradicated and a campaign for eradication of B. dorsalis is underway. However, management approaches remain reactive and sectorally-driven with little cross-fertilisation of ideas and approaches. Biological control, for example, has been very actively pursued in the agricultural sector but has not been officially undertaken for environmental weeds since 1982. The documented incursions represent biosecurity failures that the NIASSAP was designed to address but it has yet to be systematically implemented. The growing impact of new biological invaders on all sectors of the Mauritian economy has stimulated a revival of interest in biosecurity at the governmental level and in 2016 the Government submitted a US$17M UNDP/GEF project: Mainstreaming IAS Prevention, Control and Management, which will provide the incremental cost to review, update and effectively initiate the implementation of the NIASSAP.