Research and management of introduced marine species in NSW
Invasive species are considered one of the major threats to native biodiversity. Marine invasions have been less well studied than terrestrial invasions, but there is the potential for many marine species to be introduced into Australian waters by vectors such as ballast water, hull fouling, aquaculture or the trade in aquarium specimens. The management of invasive marine species in Australia began in earnest only at the end of last century following the invasion of the black-striped mussel into part of Darwin Harbour and its subsequent successful eradication. Research on invasive marine species in Australia is also in its infancy and the links between research on, and management of, invasive marine species are not well established. Until recently, invasion biology was not closely aligned with more traditional aspects of ecology. This has created many opportunities for research on invasive marine species and has highlighted the need for sound ecological information to inform management initiatives.
Some of Australia’s most notorious marine pests have been present in the country for many decades, but there is little information about the impacts that these species might have had. Much of the information used to classify these species as pests (i.e. species that cause ecological or socio-economic impacts) comes either from experiments done overseas, or from anecdotal observations. However, manipulative experiments have been done with some marine invaders and these have demonstrated that some species can have ecological effects on native Australian biodiversity. The outbreaks of the invasive green alga Caulerpa taxifolia in NSW and South Australia from 2000 onwards have led to renewed research activity and a range of innovative management responses, indicating a greater recent awareness of invasive species issues. This presentation will provide an overview of recent developments in the management of marine pests in Australia with an emphasis on NSW. It will outline new surveillance initiatives at federal and state level and provide a summary of the topical ecological issues and research projects concerning invasive marine species.