SEAMEO BIOTROP, Indonesian Agriculture Quarantine Agency Discuss the Classical Biological Control for Invasive Alien Species Thursday, 09 June 2022 on 1:41pm

SEAMEO BIOTROP, Indonesian Agriculture Quarantine Agency Discuss the Classical Biological Control for Invasive Alien Species

Indonesia ratified the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in 1992 by issuing Law Number 5 of 1994 concerning ratification of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity. In the text of the CBD Convention, it is stated that "Each contracting party as far as possible and as appropriate, prevent the introduction of, control and eradicate those alien species which threaten ecosystems, habitats, or species." By ratifying the CBD, Indonesia has an obligation to implement Article 8(h) which includes: “prevention of IAS introduction; control of IAS; eradication of IAS and Prevention of IAS introduction is carried out at the border”.

One of the methods for controlling Invasive Alien Species (IAS) is through classical biological control using biocontrol agents. The CBD Technical Series No. 91 with the title “The Application of Classical Biological Control for the Management of Established Invasive Alien Species Causing Environmental Impacts” becomes the guideline for the “Summary of technical considerations for the use of biological control agents to manage invasive alien species”. The Technical Series provides detailed technical information on the application of classical biological control, as well as the track record and case studies of past successful applications, including evidence of non-target impacts. This issue of the CBD Technical Series provides a common understanding to facilitate effective scientific and technical cooperation among countries interested in applying classical biological control against invasive alien species in broad sectors. Related to this function, therefore, the role of the Agricultural Quarantine Agency becomes very crucial in supporting the successful control of IAS using its natural enemies, because the first screening at the entry point of biological agents is under the authority of the Agricultural Quarantine Agency.

Biological control is among several methods for controlling and managing invasive alien species (IAS), by means of using biological agents.  The agent used is usually the natural enemy of the IAS, which can be the predator or pathogen of the targeted IAS and is called the classical biological agent.  Precautions should be practiced in using the biological agent because it is possible that the biological agent can also become another invasive alien species when its population is uncontrolled.  Nonetheless, the use of biological agents in IAS control and management is preferred as opposed to the chemical and physical methods due to economic and environmental considerations.

To obtain a more profound understanding of the governmental regulations in using biological agents in controlling and managing IAS, SEAMEO BIOTROP invited the Indonesian Agriculture Quarantine Agency to have a virtual discussion on classical biological control for IAS on 6 June 2022.  Resource persons in this discussion were Dr Ir A. M. Adnan, MP, the Director of the Center for Plant Quarantine and Biosafety, representing the Indonesian Agriculture Quarantine Agency and Mr. Soekisman Tjitrosemito, PhD, the scientist of SEAMEO BIOTROP with expertise in Invasive Alien Species and Weed Science.  This event was opened by Dr Zulhamsyah Imran, the Director of SEAMEO BIOTROP, who expressed his expectations that this discussion will result in a better understanding of how to cautiously implement biological agents in controlling and managing IAS.  The moderator of this event was Mr. Harry Imantho, MSc.

During the meeting, Dr Adnan and staff from the Commission of Biological Agents of the Indonesian Agriculture Quarantine Agency explained that the mechanisms of introducing biological agents to control IAS are regulated by:  
•    Law 21 of 2019 concerning Animal, Fish and Plant Quarantine states that the supervision for the entry of biological agents at the place of entry and place of expenditure is carried out in an integrated manner with quarantine measures. Supervision of biological agents at the place of entry is carried out by the Quarantine Officer.
•    Presidential Regulation Number 1 of 2021 concerning Microorganism Management. In this Presidential Regulation, there are provisions regarding the distribution and utilization of microorganisms. Microorganisms that will be brought into the territory of the Republic of Indonesia must obtain approval in regards to the scientific justification from an institution in the central government that is in charge of scientific research.
•    Decree of the Minister of Agriculture Number 411 of 1995 concerning the Entry of Biological Agents into the Territory of the Republic of Indonesia. In this Decree, the entry of biological agents can only be carried out by persons or legal entities that have received permission from the Minister of Agriculture. In order to grant the permit, the Minister of Agriculture was assisted by the Commission of Biological Agents which will conduct a study of the biological agents that will enter Indonesia by considering the impact of the entry of these biological agents.

However, Law 21 of 2019 also stated that it is necessary to clarify the definition of biological agents that will be used for biological control of IAS, so as not to mix with biological agents that are used for commercial purposes. Biological agents used for controlling IAS must be spread within the invaded ecosystems in order to be effective for controlling IAS.

The Indonesian Agriculture Quarantine Agency emphasizes that “Introducing biological control agents from abroad can pose a risk to the entry of organisms having the potential to threaten the sustainability of Indonesia's biological natural resources, especially biological control agents that are used to control Invasive Alien Plant Species (IAPS). Organisms that were originally incorporated as biological agents, can change their status to plant-disturbing organisms. Therefore, the entry of biological agents must be carried out carefully.

The fruitful discussion resulted in several understandings:
1. The Indonesian Agriculture Quarantine Agency has duties to prevent, monitor and control the entrance of alien organisms from outside Indonesia and among regions in Indonesia so as not to threaten the existing indigenous species;
2. In conducting its duties, the Indonesian Agriculture Quarantine Agency is subject to government regulations;
3.  The Commission of Biological Agents is a cross-sectoral body, which responsibility is to thoroughly assess any possible means of biological agents’ entrance into Indonesia;
4. Research on finding a biological agent for a targeted IAS can be conducted. However, the governmental quarantine regulations require the comprehensive presentation of the research proposal in front of the Commission of Biological Agents prior to the actual research;
5. Upon approval from the Commission of Biological Agents on the research proposal, the actual research is permitted to be conducted in a restricted area only;
6. The research results should be presented in front of the Commission of Biological Agents;
7. If the research is deemed to be successful in proving that a biological agent is found to effectively control a targeted IAS, then the Commission of Biological Agents will conduct a thorough assessment to determine the propagation and distribution methods of the biological agent to control the targeted IAS;
8. In assessing any biological agents, the Indonesian Agriculture Quarantine Agency adheres to the genetic purity, effectiveness and safety principles of the biological agents. (sb,sis).

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