Marine Invasive Alien Species in Arctic Waters

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Globally, invasive non-native species are considered the second most important threat to biodiversity after habitat loss. These are species introduced by human activity that flourish and spread in their new environment and threaten native species and ecosystem functions.

iStock 696175478In 2017, PAME and CAFF produced the Arctic Invasive Alien Species (ARIAS) Strategy and Action Plan. It sets forth priority actions that the Arctic Council and its partners are encouraged to take to protect the Arctic region from a significant threat: the adverse impacts of invasive alien species. These priority actions span terrestrial, aquatic, and marine ecosystems. The actions take environmental, cultural, and economic perspectives into consideration, including drivers, impacts, and response measures.

Shipping activities in the Arctic have increased (see ASSR) recently. Ships are the most prevalent vector in marine systems through organism entrainment in ballast water and biofouling (Molnar, Gamboa, Revenga, & Spalding, 2008; Williams et al., 2013). Studies of polar shipping operations have demonstrated that the external hull and ballast tanks of vessels operating in ice-covered waters can support a wide variety of non-native marine organisms (Ware et al. 2014 and 2016, Chan et al. 2015).

Ongoing project on Marine Invasive Alien Species in Arctic Waters

The primary objective of the ongoing project is to improve the knowledge base for work in CAFF and PAME on specific actions in the Arctic Invasive Alien Species Strategy and Action plan (ARIAS) that focus on the unwanted potential transfer of marine invasive alien species by ships via ballast water (BW) and biofouling (BF) into and within Arctic waters. The project will build upon data from existing databases and published information.

The project is suggested to form the basis for an extension of this project (Phase 2) where the results from the project go into preparing programs for monitoring, detection and recording of nonindigenous species and invasive alien species in Arctic waters.

This project will:

  • Establish a project group focusing on Arctic marine non-indigenous species
  • Assemble a list of nonindigenous species and their current distributions in Arctic waters
  • Produce a review report on methods and tools used for risk assessment of invasive species in Arctic waters
  • Make an sssessment of the probability of the listed nonindigenous species to be transferred by ships
  • Produce a risk assessment of non-indigenous species to be invasive alien species in the Arctic now and in near future (climate scenarios year 2100)

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Increased shipping

While there are currently few known invasive non-native species in the Arctic, more are expected with climate change and increased human activity - as shipping activities increase.

In recent years, the risk of marine invasive alien species has been assessed for various Arctic marine areas.

In relation to the potential for introduction of marine nonindigenous species in the Arctic, ships are the most prevalent vector in marine systems through organism entrainment in ballast water and biofouling.

Studies of polar shipping operations have demonstrated that the external hull and ballast tanks of vessels operating in ice-covered waters can support a wide variety of non-native marine organisms.

Ballast water

Ballast water is pumped into, between, and out of ship ballast tanks to maintain safe draught, trim and stability during voyages and cargo operations. Thus, while ballast water is essential for safe and efficient modern shipping operations, it may pose serious ecological, economic and health problems to recipient regions.

Ballast water may contain marine organisms and life cycle stages that can pass through the ships ballast water intake and piping systems (i.e., viruses to vertebrates). Globally hundreds of invasions have already taken place, likely via ballast water, sometimes with devastating consequences for the local ecosystem, economy, and infrastructure.

In order to contain and minimize the risk of introducing invasive species by ballast water, the IMO adopted the International Ballast Water Management Convention (IMO BWC), which entered into force in September 2017. The IMO BWC requires ships to manage their ballast water for minimizing the risk of introducing of invasive alien species into coastal areas, including exchanging their ballast water or treating it using an approved ballast water management system.

Biofouling

Biofouling is also considered as one of the main and significant vectors for marine bio-invasions and is defined as the undesirable accumulation of marine organisms on submerged structures (including ships’ hulls and external structures, sea chests and internal seawater piping). Non-binding IMO Biofouling Guidelines were developed to encourage the control and management of ships' biofouling to minimize the transfer of invasive aquatic species.

The Guidelines were further supplemented by the Guidance for minimizing the transfer of invasive aquatic species as biofouling (hull fouling) for recreational craft. This Guidance is for use by all owners and operators of recreational craft less than 24 metres in length, which may constitute an important vector for the transfer of invasive marine species due to their large numbers and their operating profile that may make them particularly susceptible to biofouling.

The potential for invasive aquatic species transferred through biofouling to cause harm has been widely recognized. Studies show that the biofouling process begins within the first few hours of a ship's immersion in water.

 

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ARIAS: Strategy to minimize the impact of invasive alien species
Four general approaches are used to
minimize the impact of invasive alien species, each associated with a different stage in the invasion process:
1

Prevention (keeping invasive alien species from entering a new ecosystem);

2

Early Detection and Rapid Response (EDRR) (detecting and responding to an alien species before it becomes
established and causes harm);

3

Eradication (removing the entire population of an alien or invasive alien species); and

4

Control (containing or otherwise managing the population of an invasive alien species so as to minimize
spread and impacts).

 

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ARIAS: Actions to minimize the impact of invasive alien species
The ARIAS Strategy and Action Plan sets forth the most urgent and important steps needed in order to prevent the spread
and impact of invasive alien species in the Arctic.
1. Inspire Urgent and Effective action

Goal: Raise awareness of the unique opportunity that the Arctic Council and its partners have to inspire the urgent and effective action necessary to protect the Arctic from invasive alien species.

Priority Actions:
1.1: Promote and, as needed, develop targeted communications and outreach initiatives to raise awareness of the urgent need and unique opportunity to protect the Arctic region from the adverse impacts of invasive alien species;

1.2: Encourage Arctic States and non-Arctic States (including Arctic Council Observer States), working collaboratively with Permanent Participants, to implement effective programs for preventing the introduction and controlling the spread of invasive alien species through domestic actions and/or international agreements and relevant guidelines, such as the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments, and the IMO Guidelines for the control and management of ships’ biofouling to minimize the transfer of invasive aquatic species (Biofouling Guidelines);

1.3: Promote and coordinate the Arctic Council’s work on invasive alien species with relevant scientific, technical, and policy-making bodies and instruments; and

1.4: Encourage the integration of the outputs of the Arctic Council’s work on invasive alien species into international efforts and legal and institutional frameworks, especially planning and coordination mechanisms, including at the national and sub-national levels, where appropriate.
2. Improve the Knowledge Base for Well-Informed Decision Making

Goal: Improve the capacity of the Arctic Council and its partners to make well-informed decisions on the needs, priorities, and options for preventing, eradicating, and controlling invasive alien species in the Arctic by improving the knowledge base.

Priority Actions:
2.1 Identify and assess:
a) the invasive alien species and pathways that pose the greatest risk of biological invasion into, within, and out of Arctic ecosystems;
b) the Arctic ecosystems, livelihoods, and cultural resources most vulnerable to biological invasion; and c) the current and projected patterns and trends of introduction and impacts of invasive alien species in the Arctic;

2.2: Produce a series of topic-specific assessments of invasive alien species issues in the Arctic considering scientific, TLK, technical, environmental, economic, socio-cultural, legal, and institutional perspectives;

2.3: Improve the collection of information on the occurrence and impacts of Arctic invasive alien species, taking advantage of new technologies for early detection, and integrate this information into circumpolar, regional, and community-based observing networks, monitoring programs, (in particular the Circumpolar Biodiversity
Monitoring Programme), and associated information systems such as (the Arctic Biodiversity Data Service); and

2.4: Facilitate full, timely, and open sharing of data and other information relevant to Arctic invasive alien species prevention and management through the Arctic Biodiversity Data Service and the CAFF Web portal.
3. Undertake Prevention and Early Detection/Rapid Response Initiatives

Goal: Protect Arctic ecosystems and human well-being by instituting prevention and early detection/rapid response programs
for invasive alien species as a matter of priority.

Priority Actions:
3.1: Collaborate with industries, such as, tourism, energy, fisheries, mining, and shipping, and other stakeholders, as relevant, to develop and implement a wide range of biosecurity measures for points of entry and along priority pathways to reduce the initial transfer of species; Arctic Invasive Alien Species (ARIAS) Strategy and Action Plan 13

3.2: Encourage the establishment of new, or strengthen existing, surveillance, monitoring, reporting, and rapid response programs necessary to ensure EDRR at points of entry. Consideration of TLK and community-based monitoring programs should be encouraged;

3.3: Encourage the development and sharing of tools to enable EDRR for invasive alien species that may pose a substantial threat to the Arctic;

3.4: Actively facilitate the eradication of invasive alien species from island ecosystems throughout the Arctic as well as the recovery of native island species and habitats that have been impacted by those invasive alien species;

3.5: Develop guidance for the use and transfer of native and alien species to and throughout the Arctic environment, and identify opportunities to foster ecological resistance and resilience to environmental change;

3.6: Collect information on best practices and assess whether there is a need for International Maritime Organization to develop Arctic specific guidance for minimizing the threat posed by ballast water and biofouling as vectors for the transfer of aquatic invasive alien species from shipping; and

3.7: Foster development of the innovative research, tools, and technologies needed to advance invasive alien species prevention and EDRR capacities in the Arctic region, including through support from funding programs.

 


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