As international shipping increases in Australia, the threat of introduced marine pests increases alongside. Introduced marine pests are marine plants or animals that attach to vessels as biofouling or travel through vessel seawater systems such as pipes, bilge or ballast water.
(Caption: Marine Pests Interactive Map produced by the National System for the Prevention and Management of Marine Pest Incursions)
Many of the 250 introduced marine species in Australia are considered relatively harmless but some species, such as the European fan worm or Chinese mitten crab, have significant impacts on the operating efficiency of vessels, recreational activities as well as fishing, seafood and tourism industries.
Introduced marine pests can deplete fishing grounds and aquaculture stock, damage marine and industrial infrastructure, engine and propellers, reduce vessel performance and reduce the attractiveness of coastal areas. Furthermore, introduced marine pests can damage the marine environment and cause human poisoning.
The National System for Prevention and Management of Marine Pest Incursions
Australia’s National System for the Prevention and Management of Marine Pest Incursions, known as the National System, aims to prevent new marine pests from arriving in Australian water and the further spread of existing pests, coordinate emergency responses should a new pest arrive and minimise the spread and impact of pests already established in Australia where eradication is not possible. The National System is an initiative of multiple partners including Australian and state/territory governments, marine industries and marine scientists.
The National system engages in an ongoing national monitoring program to provide early detection of new pests, industry and community awareness and education about introduced marine pests, targeted research to develop policy and management measures as well as self-evaluation of the system for effectiveness.
The National system is implemented by the Marine Pest Sectoral Committee and overseen by the National Biosecurity Committee.
- NIMPIS: the National Introduced Marine Pest Information System
- Marine Pests from The National System for Prevention and Management of Marine Pest Incursions
- Marine Pest Identification Cards
- Introduced marine pests and their taxonomy from Australian Museum.
- Hutchings P.A.. 2007. Introduced marine pests- how they get here, how do we get rid of them, and how do we know they are really introduced. D. Lunney, P. Eby, Hutchings P.A. and S. Burgin (ed). pp 79-87 In Pest or Guest: the zoology of overabundance. Royal Zoological Society of NSW: Mosman.
- Bishop, MJ and Hutchings, PA. 2011. Taxonomic difficulties compromising documentation of exotic species diversity by port surveys.Marine Pollution Bulletin. 62. 36-42.
Hutchings P.A., Hilliard, R.W.L. and Coles, S.. 2002. Species Introductions and Potential for Marine Pest Invasions into Tropical Marine Communities, with Special Reference to the Indo–Pacific. Pacific Science. 56. (2): 223–233.