Managing invasive species
Invasive species can be introduced to marine environments by a range of human activities, including shipping and release from aquarium or aquaculture facilities. This is an issue rapidly increasing in importance and relevance in the Caribbean but thus far little has been done to address the problem of invasive species in marine planning and management.
Invasive species can pose serious threats and lead to dramatic impacts in marine environments. Research and monitoring efforts are essential to provide early detection of the arrival of invasive species, and to equip managers with a better understanding of the impacts on coral reef ecosystems. This understanding must be complemented with local or regional action plans for managers to restrict the introduction and expansion of invasive species in ecosystems.
Marine invasive species are a hot topic and there is an abundance of information online on the status of invasives, examples of invasive threats and ways to mitigate the threat, and current and ongoing initiatives in the Caribbean. The resource list has been organized to first present links to Caribbean-specific information on the threat of invasive marine species and options to reduce the threat of invasives like lionfish. Resources describing mitigation activities are presented next, followed by some international guidelines and protocols. For this theme there are many other resources online beyond those presented here.
- Invasive Species Threats in the Caribbean Region is a report to The Nature Conservancy that includes a database of invasive flora and fauna found within the Caribbean and discusses capacity building for control of invasive species: http://www.issg.org/database/species/reference_files/kairo%20et%20al,%202003.pdf.
- A key resource relevant to managing Lionfish is “Invasive Lionfish: A Guide to Control and Management” published by the Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute: http://anstaskforce.gov/Documents/InvasiveLionfishGuide_GCFI_SpecialPublicationSeries_Number1_2012.pdf. This report provides an overview of the Lionfish invasion problem and includes chapters on Education and Outreach and Control Strategies that would be very useful for Caribbean reef managers.
- An overview of the lionfish invasion, the legislation behind current management practices, and the roles and responsibilities of managerial authorities is provided in a recent thesis “Policy and Management Options for Invasive Indo-Pacific Lionfish in US Waters”: http://www.ccfhr.noaa.gov/docs/Lionfish%20policy%20review_Schram%20ms%20thesis.pdf. Potential harvesting and fishery options for future Lionfish management are also reviewed.
- CABI has a project to enhance the capacity of the Caribbean region to prevent, control and manage invasive alien species. This not-for-profit science-based development and information organization is working in five Caribbean nations. Their project “Mitigating the threats of invasive species in the Caribbean”: http://www.cabi.org/?page=1017&pid=2916&site=170 has produced several national and regional strategies (terrestrial and marine) that could be of use to Caribbean reef managers.
- UNEP’s Caribbean Environment Programme has a focus on Marine invasive species in the Caribbean: http://www.cep.unep.org/publications-and-resources/marine-and-coastal-issues-links/invasive-species. A desktop study has been undertaken and the final report "National and Regional Capacities and Experiences on Marine Invasive Species, Including Ballast Waters, Management Programmes in the Wider Caribbean Region - a Compilation of Current Information" by CABI (July 2006) can be downloaded at: http://www.cep.unep.org/about-cep/spaw/conservation-of-threatened-and-endangered-species/cabi-report.
- The marine communication organization SeaWeb has an “Ocean Issue Brief” on ballast water and marine invasive species: http://www.seaweb.org/resources/briefings/ballast.php. This page summarizes the causes and context of the problem which would be useful for Caribbean coastal managers. An extended reading list is also given.
- IUCN’s 32-page publication “Marine menace: Alien invasive species in the marine environment”: http://www.iucn.org/about/work/programmes/marine/marine_our_work/marine_invasives/invasives_publications.cfm?3255/marinemenace gives a detailed overview of how alien invasions occur, what the threats are, how an invasion can be controlled and what you can do to help. Fifteen case studies are described. Although the case studies are from a variety of global locations, Caribbean managers will relate to the concepts discussed. The section on Awareness and Education is especially relevant as these strategies can be implemented in the Caribbean.
- “Guidelines for Development of a National Ballast Water Management Strategy” has been published through collaboration between the GEF-UNDP-IMO GloBallast Partnerships Programme and IUCN’s Global Marine Programme: http://www.iucn.org/about/work/programmes/marine/marine_our_work/marine_invasives/invasives_publications.cfm?5303/ballastwaterstrategy. This report responds to requests from countries for assistance in strengthening and developing national regulatory frameworks related to marine Invasive Alien Species (IAS). Content at the link focuses on the transfer of potentially harmful aquatic organisms and pathogens in ships’ ballast water and sediments. The manual is directed at national-level managers as a hands-on guide to the development of national ballast water management strategies. The report is intended as a source of basic information and as step-by-step guidance in the development of national ballast water management strategies.
Worst case scenario: potential long-term effects of invasive predatory Lionfish (Pterois volitans) on Atlantic and Caribbean coral-reef communities (2011) Albins MA and Hixon MA. Environmental Biology of Fishes, 1-7.
Trade, transport and trouble: managing invasive species pathways in an era of globalization (2009) Hulme PE. Journal of Applied Ecology, 46, 10–18. http://www.uni-landau.de/umwelt/study/content/files/archiv/H.Schulz/WS09/Biodiversitaet_und_Naturschutz/Hulme%202009.pdf. This is a scientific paper from Lincoln University, New Zealand explaining how trade has influenced the spread of invasive species. It is heavy in scientific detail and does not directly relate to management, so is of limited use to Caribbean coastal managers.
Alien species stay home: The International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments 2004. Tsimplis M. International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law, 19(4): 411-482.
Marine invasive alien species: a threat to global biodiversity (2003) Bax N, Williamson A, Aguero M, Gonzalez E and Geeves W. Marine Policy, 27(4): 313-323.
Biological control of marine invasive species: cautionary tales and land-based lessons (2003) Secord D. Biological Invasions, Volume 5, Issue 1-2, 117-131.