Knowledge and Policy Gaps in Coastal Invasive Species Management

New research published recently in Estuaries and Coastal Science indicates that current policy and knowledge of invasive species in coastal and estuarine areas is seriously lacking.

Shipping may introduce invasive non-native species (INNS) through the emptying of ballast water in estuarine areas, or through species attached to the hull, often these may have originated thousands of miles from where they are released. Fish farming and aquariums are also significant potential INNS sources.

The authors of the paper call for further research by scientists and greater attention from policy-makers and stakeholders. The researchers suggest that prevention and early detection are the most effective methods of dealing with INNS. Further, screening using historically invasive-traits and matching previous habitats with potential new habitats, could help predict the likelihood of future invasions into alien environments.

This is of particular relevance given that the draft Marine Bill presently does not provide any reference to the introduction of INNS into the marine environment, nor any legislative preventative measures. The CBD and the Codes of Practice on the Introductions and transfers of Marine Organisms set by the International Council for Exploration of the Seas are not binding and carry no fixed penalties, therefore unless the Marine Bill addresses these issues in its final iteration, a great opportunity will have been missed.

Do readers of the blog agree that the Marine Bill should address the introduction of invasive non-native species into the marine environment?

Read the BES’s Parliamentary Office of Science & Technology (POST) fellow’s POSTnote.

Further information on the British Ecological Society’s POST fellowship can be found on the website.