The Cuba-Florida plant-pest pathway.
AbstractRecent shifts in US policies towards Cuba suggest a relaxation or lifting of the embargo may occur in the near future. With the prospects of open travel and trade with Cuba come concerns over the introduction of agricultural pests. In an effort to assess these concerns the distribution-based introduction risk of pests listed in the 2015 Cooperative Agricultural Pest Survey’s (CAPS) list of priority pests of economic and environmental importance is reviewed. Of the 59 pests on the CAPS priority pest list, 20 have been recorded in the literature as being present in the Caribbean Basin, South America and Central America. For these 20 New World pests a commodity and distribution-based risk rating was assigned to describe their potential for introduction through the Cuba-Florida pest pathway. The highest rating was given to the six listed pests currently reported as being present in Cuba, and potential for introduction and subsequent impact of these six pests on Florida agriculture is discussed. In addition to the pests found on the 2015 CAPS priority pest list, information regarding pests of concern in the family Tephritidae and the Old World bollworm Helicoverpa armigera (Hübner), is also included, as is a description of the Cuban plant health and regulatory structure. The significance of plant-pest introductions between Cuba and Florida is discussed, with an emphasis on proactive engagement in research and collaboration to address these issues.