Vanuatu, Efate, Havannah: All Vessels Currently Banned from this Harbor

All vessels are currently banned from entering Havannah Harbor, on the NW of Vanuatu Island, and all surrounding islands due to an infestation of the Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle. The Vanuatu Government have issued a State of Emergency and vessels will be turned away.

Published 5 years ago

The Vanuatu Government issued a State of Emergency mid-July 2019 due to an infestation of the Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle, meaning that all vessels are not permitted to enter Havannah Harbour and must behave appropriately if sailing within or near to the buffer zone that has been established.

What is the Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle?

While not harmful to humans, the coconut rhinoceros beetle devours crops and has devastated coconut plantations in the Solomon Islands where this invasive beetle is thought to have migrated from. It bores into the stem of a palm tree and feeds on the sap, damaging the developing fronds which result in the defoliation of the tree. In some areas of the Solomons the beetle is responsible for the destruction of over 50% of the palm forest.

The coconut rhinoceros beetle now threatens to devastate Vanuatu’s coconut industry, with copra being one of Vanuatu’s main export products. 

When did the beetle come to Vanuatu?

Vanuatu’s government still do not know how the pest got into the country, although it is suspected the beetle came with construction equipment shipped from Papua New Guinea.

Evidence that the beetle had arrived in Vanuatu was first found in May 2019 on the north-west coast of Efate island and the government quickly cordoned off Havannah Harbour and created an offshore buffer zone to restrict all movement of commercial and private traffic to minimize the transport of the beetle outside the affected area. While the government was quick to respond, the beetles have been found in several locations several kilometres away from the initial site and the success of their attempts at containment remain to be seen. 

Highlighted areas that delineate the offshore buffers zone off Efete, Vanuatu
Map of the Offshore Buffer Zone

How does this affect visiting yachts?

All vessels are required to switch off their lights at night (other than navigation lights) while they are within the buffer zone, a region that covers Tuktuk Point to Heart Island (as indicated on the map displayed right).

Yachts may anchor anywhere outside this buffer zone, including Port Vila Harbour, Hideaway Island and Pango Peninsular. 

SV Temptress who recently arrived in Vanuatu and were turned away from Havannah Harbor reported to Noonsite, “Biosecurity is concerned that the onboard lights of yachts will attract the flying adult beetles and these could then be transported to uninfested areas of the country. Yacht crews are advised to seek the current status of this exclusion area before attempting to enter Havannah Harbour. Vessels may be turned away (as we were) or potentially impounded under the SOE laws.”

New Zealand announced today a $US11.5 million funding focus on efforts to combat the invasive coconut rhinoceros beetle. They have estimated that the region could lose at least $US151 million per annum by 2040 if the beetle continues to spread.

Contact the Vanuatu Office of the Maritime Regulator (OMR) by phone 35445 or email [email protected] for specific inquiries. 


As Reported By:

Gulf Harbour Radio: Newsflash – Vanuatu Havannah Harbor (04/09/2019)

ABC News Australia: Vanuatu declares a state of emergency as beetles threaten crucial coconut industry (23/07/2019)

Further Information:

For full details on clearing into Vanautu see Noonsite’s Vanuatu Formalities.

Invasive Species Profile: Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle

Noonsite has not independently verified this information.

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