Information on cutting palm fronds for the use of fishermen

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Information on cutting palm fronds for the use of fishermenPlant Health Directorate has issued information on the cutting of palms that are used by fishermen. The Palm tree has several uses other than landscaping. It is a common tradition to use the fronds of the Phoenix species in the fishing industry.

In the month of August, it is a common practice for fishermen to cut hundreds of palm fronds, which are used as sheltering grounds for dolphin fish “lampuki” in the traditional “kannizzati” fishing method. This practice of palm frond removal should be immediately followed by preventive treatments (insecticide treatment and wood filling application) as the Red Palm Weevil is attracted to freshly damaged palm fronds and uses these fresh cuts for depositing eggs.

The primary focus is on the Canary Palm (Phoenix canariensis) which is one of the most susceptible palm trees found locally. This is the largest among the palms, having long bright green fronds with sharp thorns at the base.

Malta, along with other European countries, is being faced with a major pest problem; the Red Palm Weevil (Rhynchophorus ferrugineus) which is a palm tree borer capable of killing palm trees within a short period of time (months).

The Red Palm Weevil is also capable of flying long distances to infest other palm trees. Thus, it is important that any palm fronds to be used for such purposes have to originate from Red Palm Weevil-free trees to prevent the spreading of this pest.

The fronds have to be cut as short as possible so as to minimise infective areas which are generally concentrated at the base of the fronds. The palm trees from where the fronds are cut have to be treated with an appropriate insecticide.

In order to manage the Red Palm Weevil infestation the Plant Health Directorate is soliciting the cooperation of all the people involved in such activities. Stakeholders should abide to Legal Notice 42 of 2009, Plant Quarantine Act (CAP 433) Control of the Red Palm Weevil Regulations, 2009 and respective guidelines, as stipulated in regulation 8 and regulation 6(6) whereby pruning or any similar activity on susceptible plants, shall be carried out in collaboration with and under the supervision of the Directorate which shall give proper and adequate instructions for such pruning.

Any such or similar activity cannot be carried out unless a written approval for such pruning or similar activity has been obtained from the Directorate prior to the undertaking of the actual pruning or similar activity. All requests should be made through plantquarantine@gov.mt.

Such an infestation can only be controlled if all involved persons play their part. For any further information please contact the Plant Health Directorate within the Ministry for Sustainable Development, the Environment and Climate Change on 22927106 or freephone 80072310.

Photos show the Red Palm Weevil, Red Palm Weevil Larva burrowed inside palm leaf, Symptoms of an infected palm tree and the Phoenix canariensis palm species.

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