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Development of Marine Invasive Species Surveillance Methods to Facilitate Mapping

Project Outputs

The aim of this project is to develop surveillance methods to facilitate the mapping of Invasive Alien Species (IAS) distribution in Irish marine habitats.  Galway Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT) are researching IAS detection methods in Irish nearshore waters and benthic habitats.  They have completed a review of known marine IAS in Ireland and identified IAS that could invade Irish marine habitats through vulnerable invasion pathways and other mechanisms (e.g. ballast water vectors, climate change, etc).  Molecular methods, such as environmental DNA techniques, are being assessed as a tool for confirming presence/absence of IAS in Irish waters.  These techniques have potential as an early detection technique for monitoring the introduction and spread of invasive taxa.  Targeted field studies using established methods, are being carried out in parallel to identify and confirm the presence of IAS.  This will give a better understanding of their distribution and risk assessment, and thereby enabling management actions that could be addressed in a marine spatial plan.


2 years (2019-2021)

Project Status: 
Project Outputs: 

1. Review document summarising existing programmes that monitor for IAS with a view to identifying potential gaps in the current regulatory programme, to summarising a standardised approach that could ensure all statutory and non-statutory IAS monitoring requirements are being addressed, and to outlining criteria that distinguish between harmful (i.e. invasive) and more benign alien taxa.
2. A publicly available database and catalogue of marine IAS detected in Irish marine habitats.
3. Risk assessments to characterise the marine IAS potential for further colonization and spread; to ascertain the ecological (e.g., fisheries, biodiversity, ecosystem services etc.), economic and environmental health consequences of such spread; and to investigate mechanisms to control or eradicate the species and manage their risks through mitigation measures.
4. Detection and surveillance methods manual.

Expected Benefit: 
Increased trade and climate change are factors likely to increase the frequency of introductions of marine IAS into Ireland. The development of national marine invasive species surveillance methods will improve the control of introductions and management of pathways for marine invasive alien species. This project will increase the knowledge of the existing baseline incidence of marine IAS in Ireland, by providing a fit-for-purpose surveillance system, and providing spatial knowledge of marine invasive taxa in Irish coastal habitats. Such spatial knowledge will enable management criteria to be addressed in a marine spatial plan that define appropriate activities that could be engaged in specific water bodies to minimize the risk of further spread of recognized AIS, and define additional control and/or eradication methods that could be implemented. Thus, resource managers and local authorities addressing foreshore infrastructure and nearshore development proposal decisions will able to make informed choices. Marine spatial planning decisions should consider the status of the incidence of marine invasives in Irish marine habitats and mechanisms to manage/mitigate the risk. This work will be foundational to an early detection and rapid response system for marine invasive species in Irish waters, and will be key to supporting related work outlined in Project 3.2. It will also provide ancillary benefit to characterizing the status of invasive species in Ireland for MSFD reporting requirements.
Project Cost - Actual: 
Project Cost - Projected: 
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