Inking the MoU, Hon. Dr. Kedrick Pickering, Deputy Premier and Minister for Natural Resources and Labour, and Fred Soltero of the United States Department of Agriculture's Area Veterinarian in charge of PR & USVI.
Photo Credit: Gordon French/BVI Platinum News
A provision has been included in a new five-year Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the British Virgin Islands and the United States Virgin Islands to have race horses identified via a micro chip.
The MoU that allows for the movement of equines between the two Territories was signed today, January 14. Signing the document were Hon. Dr. Kedrick Pickering, Deputy Premier and Minister for Natural Resources and Labour and Veterinarian Fred Soltero, US Department of Agriculture's Area Veterinarian in charge of Puerto Rico and USVI.
Soltero explained that the microchip will not be the only option for identifying the horses and keeping track of their movement between the two Territories. He explained that tattoos are very much still accepted.
However, he stated that the inclusion of the microchip element in the MoU places the BVI and USVI well ahead of many states in the U.S.
"Micro-chipping is the method of choice, but we will not be enforcing the micro-chipping right now, but it is a process that even the USDA hasn't completely enforced in all the states...A permanent identification of the animal has to be present. Tattoo is still available method if the tattoo marks are readable," Soltero stated.
He explained that in the past identification by pictures or description was allowed, but there are many problems because records cannot be tracked as well.
"Micro-chipping will be the best method...I am glad that the BVI and USVI are the leaders because most of the states have not put that in writing as yet...in the future all animals will be required to have microchip," Soltero stated.
Hon. Pickering indicated that there was an MoU in place previously, but it expired last year. He explained that the renewal process took several months because the document had to be approved by Washington in the case of the USVI and by the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office for the BVI.
He stated that while the document currently caters to the movement of race horses, it also extends to all categories of equines. Hon. Pickering said that while other forms of racing are not being considered one does not know what the future holds.
Hon. Pickering also stated that the MoU is an effort to pool resources to ensure safe and secure exchanges. He stated that it will assist each Territory in meeting its responsibility for the appropriate health standards.
The Deputy Premier indicated that both Territories share a common concern for the safety of horses used for racing and the MoU will assist each Territory in meeting its responsibility.
"As a result we are ensuring compliance with the appropriate animal health requirement. The MoU will help to avoid duplication of efforts from the Territory's part of protecting the horse population...by signing the MoU we are also agreeing to share information," Hon. Pickering stated.
The MoU which will be made public shortly will also see the establishment of of a Standing Committee to continually review the MoU.
The Committee comprises of Soltero, Bethany Bradford of the USVI Department of Agriculture and Michael Montrose, BVI's Department of Agriculture.