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The Asian Gypsy Moth has been given a new name

Updated 16 May 2023

A new common name, Flighted Spongy Moth Complex, will now be used to refer to the group of moths formerly known as Asian Gypsy Moth, or AGM. However, individual country’s requirements for pre-departure inspection and certification prior to departing ports in the Asia Pacific between May and October remain largely the same.

Why the name change?

In March 2022 the Entomological Society of America (ESA) announced that the common name for Lymantria dispar would now be "spongy moth", replacing the name "gypsy moth" which was considered derogatory. As a result, the common name Flighted Spongy Moth Complex (FSMC) will now be used to refer to the group of moths previously known as Asian Gypsy Moth (AGM). Please refer to a February 2023 joint bulletin published by the government of Canada for more information.

It may take some time for each country to update all of its websites, policies, forms, certificates, educational material, etc. to reflect the new common name. Hence, during this time of transition from one name to another, all inspection certificates using both of these names will continue to be considered valid if they have been issued by recognized certification body. Note however, that Gard is now referring to FSMC in all of our loss prevention and awareness material for consistency.

Prepare for the 2023 FSMC season

According to US and Canadian authorities, very high numbers of moths have been observed in many of the regulated ports in Asia Pacific in recent years. Due to these population outbreaks, a high number of vessels arrived in North American ports with FSMC egg masses. To prevent a similarly high number of vessels with egg masses arriving in 2023, vessel operators should remind their Masters of the importance of arriving in regulating countries free of FSMC and of the need to provide port officials with the required FSMC documentation. The implementation of proper routines for carrying out systematic self-inspections onboard the vessel while en route is also a good way to avoid delays and re-routing during subsequent port calls.

In terms of FSMC regulations, the following should be noted for the 2023 FSMC season:

  • Canada and the US issued this year’s Joint FSMC Industry Notice in February 2023.  Beginning in 2022, the US and Canada implemented changes to their policies on FSMC regulated areas, which means that the specified risk period, i.e. the time period during which FSMC certification is required, for vessels that have called on certain ports in Japan and Russia has been increased/lengthened.
  • Chile amended its policy on FSMC regulated areas in May 2022. A new resolution, No. 8394/2021, harmonizes the specified risk periods with those of the US and Canada. The resolution also aligns the definition of regulated areas with those of the US and Canada and removes the expression “all ports located between 20°and 60° N latitude” from its requirements.
  • Argentina’s FSMC regulations entered into force in April 2021, but its policy on FSMC regulated areas was amended ahead of the 2023 flight season and largely mirrors that of the US, Canada and Chile. However, Argentina still defines its regulated ports in Asia Pacific as "all ports located between 20°and 60° N latitude”. Unlike the three other countries, Argentina also continues to define Akita and Yamagata as part of the Western specified risk period of Japan. 
  • Australia announced in December 2022 that its annual heightened vessel surveillance window for managing the risks posed by FSMC on vessels began on 1 January 2023. The Australian authorities continue to target only vessels that have visited a port in East Russia between 40ºN, 60ºN and west of 147ºE, anytime between 1 July and 30 September in the previous two calendar years.
  • New Zealand announced in March 2023 that its policy on FSMC regulated areas will change ahead of the 2023 flight season to align its requirements with those of the US and Canada. Hence, the revised requirements include an extension of some risk periods and the merging of some risk areas. However, unlike the US and Canada, only vessels that in the past 12 months were in one of these regulated ports during the risk periods are required to present a valid pre-departure certificate. At the time of writing, New Zealand’s Craft Risk Management Standard (CRMS) for Vessels has not yet been updated with the revised FSMC policy, but vessels calling at the country’s ports should still prepare for inspections to be carried out in accordance with the revised policy.

Please go to Gard’s webpage “Frequently asked questions - managing Flighted Spongy Moth Complex risks“ for a complete overview of the each country’s current FSMC regulations, links to relevant government websites, as well as advice and guidelines for how the crew can carry out systematic self-inspections onboard the vessel.

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