USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has announced the closure of the APHIS-operated bird import quarantine facility located at the port of Otay Mesa, Calif. These changes will take effect Dec. 9 and will help reduce costs and streamline operations where APHIS services have been underutilized.
APHIS’ bird import quarantine facility in Otay Mesa has been operating at a deficit—approximately $400,000 annually for several years—because of the low number of birds quarantined at the facility. In 2013 and 2014, Otay Mesa provided quarantine services for just 26 commercial shipments totaling 580 imported birds. During this same two-year time frame, the facility quarantined 57 pet birds and 60 smuggled birds. These services only brought in about $109,000 in revenue, but it cost APHIS more than $900,000 to operate the facility during this period.
In addition, the quarantine facility, which was built in 1983, needs a full renovation that would cost approximately $2.3 million to meet current safety and environmental standards. With these factors in mind, APHIS made the decision to close the facility, and the Agency will continue to safeguard avian health by providing quarantine services at its Animal Import Centers in Rock Tavern, N.Y., and Miami, Fla. In addition, private quarantine services are also an option for large, commercial shipments of birds.
APHIS is notifying stakeholders of these upcoming changes now to give customers who use these facilities time to make alternate arrangements. A letter will also be sent to all customers who have utilized APHIS’ services Otay Mesa during the previous year to ensure they receive timely information about the closure.