Pacific Marine Biosecurity Toolkit and Battler Guide to support marine biosecurity and control the movement of invasive marine species in the Pacific region

The Pacific’s battle against marine invasive species has just been bolstered with the launch of new resources which will support marine biosecurity and invasive species management in the region. 

The Pacific Marine Biosecurity Toolkit and its accompanying Battler Series Guide – Manage marine biosecurity in the Pacific, were launched by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), through the Global Environment Facility 6 Regional Invasive Species Project (GEF 6 RIP). 

Introduced marine species are those that are introduced to an area or an environment from somewhere else. Once introduced, they may become invasive by establishing populations on their own, causing harm and severe impacts to biodiversity and ecosystem processes such as the production of clean water and removal of nutrients, which can negatively impact human health, the environment and economies. 

According to Dr Graeme Inglis, Chief Science Advisor at the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), humans have introduced at least 2,000 marine species to a different part of the world’s oceans. 

Unfortunately, many countries aren’t monitoring and recording these species which are introduced to their environment. 

He identified three main pathways, by which invasive species enter a new area or spread within it, including ballast water from large shipping vessels, and vessel biofouling. 

Ballast water is used by large vessels to maintain stability. When cargo is discharged from a large vessel, it takes on ballast water to make up the weight that is being removed. This water can take in millions of organisms, and becomes a pathway for marine species to spread to new areas and environments. 

Vessel biofouling is the growth of plants, animals and other marine life on the surfaces of vessels. This has also been identified as another major pathway for invasive marine species to spread to new environments. 

The Pacific Marine Biosecurity Toolkit is a set of six documents designed to help guide measures to control the movement of invasive marine species.  It includes guides to biofouling assessments and ballast water management, management strategies and risk analysis, identification guides, and sampling guides for surveillance. 

Manage Marine Biosecurity in the Pacific was developed as part of the Battler Series which is intended to share lessons learned about common invasive species issues in the Pacific region. Manage Marine Biosecurity in the Pacific’s two main purposes are to support the management of invasive marine species in the Pacific, and to be used as an accompaniment to the Pacific Marine Biosecurity Toolkit by explaining when and how to use the documents included in the Toolkit. 

According to Bradley Myer, GEF 6 RIP Project Manager, the Marine Biosecurity Toolkit is based on existing frameworks, and has been designed for use in small islands where officials are tasked with a range of responsibilities. 

“The development of the Marine Biosecurity Toolkit was inspired by the one developed by the UK Non-Native Species Secretariat. We had a look at it and we felt that it could serve as a blueprint for something that would be of great benefit to the Pacific.” 

“We were fortunate to work with the team at NIWA who were appointed to develop the Marine Biosecurity Toolkit, and who were also involved in the development of the UK version. They have a wealth of expertise and resources in this area and have been excellent to work with,” he added. 

The documents can be easily accessed from the upgraded Battler Resource Base, a searchable knowledge resource to support Invasive Species management, available on the SPREP website. 

The GEF 6 RIP is funded by the Global Environment Facility, implemented by the United Nations Environment Programme, and executed by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme. The Project works primarily in the Marshall Islands, Niue, Tonga, and Tuvalu and has a regional component.

Implementation of the GEF6RIP is supported by the Pacific Regional Invasive Species Management Support Service.

This story was written by Leanne, originally published at SPREP on 04 March 2022, reposted via PACNEWS.

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