Marine invasive species are a serious global threat to marine biodiversity. For this reason, Thomson Unicomarine has been appointed by the Harwich Haven Authority (HHA) to undertake research to identify gaps in the knowledge and understanding of marine invasive species.
For this exciting project, we will analyse the wealth of biological data which has been acquired by Thomson Unicomarine for the HHA over the past five years, to find records of invasive species and their distribution, and to identify gaps in the data and knowledge. One of the outcomes of this project will be the recommendation of options to manage the risk , including management of ballast waters to minimise the introduction of invasive alien species.
The increase of the human population, development of communications, and the effects of climate change have contributed to breaking down natural barriers to the spread of plants and animals, which are increasingly transported beyond their natural range and distribution.
Introduced species are those which have been taken by human activity, such as hipping, recreational boating, aquaculture, into an area in which they are not normally found. When these species are able to adapt to the conditions of their new environment and compete successfully with native species, they are considered to be ‘invasive’. Established populations of invasive species can become a threat to populations of native species, by competition, predation, introduction of new pathogens or other interactions with the ecosystem and habitats. Marine invasive species are considered one of the threats to global marine biodiversity, together with over exploitation of resources, physical alteration of habitats, pollution and global climate change. Invasive species are also a threat to marine conservation and marine protected areas.