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Aquaculture Major Cause of Alien Invasions

UK - Alien species are wreaking havoc on the world's oceans and river systems, say scientists and governments are having to spend millions of pounds trying to get rid of them, writes Paul Eccleston.

A study by Nature Conservancy shows that Marine invasive species damage waters and land that native species and plants rely on to survive, says a report in the Telegraph.

Examples in the UK include Floating pennywort (Hydrocotyle ranunculoides) a native of North America which was brought to Britain in the 1980s as a garden pond plant but which quickly spread to the wild.

Invasive and predatory marine animals which cause massive problems for our native creatures on waterways include the American mink, American crayfish, and the zebra mussel from the Caspian sea.

Once in the wild, these aquatic invaders cause massive disruption and with no natural predators and a benign climates they expand rapidly to nuisance proportions.

Aquaculture Major Cause

According to the study, published in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, international shipping and aqua culture are the major causes of the spread of harmful species introduction world-wide with 80 per cent of all invasive introductions accidental.

The latest study contains a global assessment of the impacts and causes of invasive marine species and says 84 per cent of the world's coasts are being affected by foreign aquatic species.

Stephanie Meeks, acting president and CEO of The Nature Conservancy, said everyone in the world depends on healthy oceans and coasts for survival. Invasive species are severely impacting native plants and animals, and are causing significant economic damage at the same time.

"By understanding the scale and scope of these invaders, we are better equipped to stop them," she says

The economic costs of invasive species are huge with the US alone spending £60bn annually to control and repair damage from more than 800 invaders.

"Once alien species become established in marine habitats, it can be nearly impossible to remove them, The best way to address these invaders is to prevent their arrival or introduction in the first place."

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Ellen Hardy

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