A decision support tool to prioritize ballast water compliance monitoring by ranking risk of non-indigenous species establishment.
Despite the availability of research which has direct applications to environmental management, there is often a disconnect between scientific research and applied management that presents challenges for using academic knowledge in day-to-day operations by non-scientists. A science-based decision support tool was developed in partnership with Canada's marine authority, Transport Canada, for use by ballast water inspectors in their daily operations to inform prioritization of ships for regulatory compliance inspections. This science-based tool combines information on the two primary pathway-level predictors of species establishment success: environmental matching between source and recipient locations and propagule pressure (introduction effort), to generate risk estimates and relative rankings using data taken directly from ballast water reporting forms submitted by arriving ships. This tool thus packages the best available scientific knowledge in such a way as to be readily accessible for day-to-day decision-making. While this tool was developed for Canada, it could be applied in any country with very little, if any, modification. This tool can also be updated in the future to incorporate advances in scientific understanding of ballast-mediated introductions of non-indigenous species. Synthesis and applications. Partnerships between scientists and managers are essential for ensuring that best-available science translates into effective adaptive management. Recognizing a need to inform ballast water management compliance inspections, a tool was created that automatically estimates relative risk of establishment of non-indigenous species for arriving ships. This information can be used by ballast water inspectors developing priorities for resource-limited regulatory compliance inspections.