Report on Port Kembla Introduced Marine Pest Species Survey
|Full report - Report on Port KemblaIntroduced Marine Pest Species Survey
An Australian Port Survey Program was initiated in the mid 1990s to obtain baseline information on the range of introduced marine species present in Australian ports. This program is a joint venture between the Australian Association of Port and Marine Authorities (AAPMA), CSIRO's Centre for Research on Introduced Marine Pests (CRIMP), and several state and territory agencies, including NSW Fisheries.
As part of this program, a survey of the introduced marine species present in Port Kembla was commenced in May 2000 with funding from the Port Kembla Port Corporation. This is the third survey undertaken in NSW, following previous surveys of the ports of Eden (in 1996), Newcastle (in 1997) and Botany Bay (in 1998).
The material collected during the Port Kembla survey was sorted and analysed by taxonomic experts in Australia and overseas. This material yielded a total of 35 definitely introduced species and a further 14 species of unknown (probably introduced) origin. Of the 35 introduced species, only two are formally listed as 'target introduced marine pests'. These are both toxic dinoflagellates (microscopic algae) belonging to the genus Alexandrium. These dinoflagellates live for short periods in the plankton, but they can survive for long periods as dormant cysts in bottom sediments. Toxic species of this genus have previously been found in a number of coastal bays, estuaries and ports in south-eastern Australia. Occasionally, these dinoflagellates can be present in the water in very large numbers (referred to as 'blooms'), and may produce neurotoxins that can kill fish or accumulate in oysters and other shellfish, causing human health problems, including paralytic shellfish poisoning. No such toxic blooms, however, have been reported from Port Kembla.
All of the introduced species found in Port Kembla are likely to have arrived via ships' ballast water discharges and/or hull fouling. Apart from the two dinoflagellates, none of the other introduced species are likely to cause any significant problems for human health or marine biodiversity, at least while their numbers remain low. It is recommended that the dinoflagellates in both the water and bottom sediments of this port be periodically monitored to allow detection of any build-up in their numbers that might give rise to toxic algal blooms.