Trans-border environmental crime is a growing problem with serious consequences, ranging from dumping hazardous waste to smugglings environmentally sensitive commodities – such as Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS) and toxic chemicals- to the trafficking of endangered species.

This was highlighted by the Ministry of Waterways and Environment’s Permanent Secretary, Joshua Wycliffe while opening a two-day training workshop on OCS for enforcement officers in Nadi.

“The Ministry is grateful to have border protection officers joining national efforts in addressing the global concerns of citizens,” he said.

“At the national level, the training allows for improved communication and better working relationships with responsible authorities collaboratively. This progress enables border protection officers to ensure better compliance of cross-border movement of goods with a range of trade-related Multilateral Environment Agreements (MEAs) and their related national regulations.”

All parties linked to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer have committed to eliminating the production of key chemical and gases linked to be ODS, including Fiji, which does not produce nor manufacture ODS.

“Fiji does not produce or manufacture ODS; the focus is mainly on the importation/exportation of ODS and ODS-based alternatives. To guarantee that the Protocol’s phase-out target for ODS is met, all the Parties are encouraged to establish an import/export licensing system to help control and monitor the amount of ODS entering or leaving our borders,” Mr Wycliffe reiterated.

“Environmental enforcement works side by side with central and local law enforcement in a number of ways. We make tremendous use of liaison as it is clear that we must all work together to accomplish national priority objectives in line with the National Development Plan 2017-2036.”

Officers have been urged towards interagency collaboration, with the Permanent Secretary noting that it would successfully pool resources and specialisation.