Pathways of introduction of marine non-indigenous species

Indicator Assessment
Prod-ID: IND-365-en
Created 29 Mar 2019 Last modified 18 Jul 2019
16 min read

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Since 1949, 1,039 NIS have been introduced in European seas. The main pathways for marine NIS introduction are shipping (49.1 %) and introductions via marine and inland corridors (33 %: Suez Canal, inland canals). These are followed by unintentional movement of live organisms as contaminants (11 %) and escapees from aquaria, aquaculture and mariculture (5.1 %). Intentional releases in nature account for just 1.7 %. Among NIS transferred by vessels, most species appear to have been transferred through ballast waters (346 species), while the introduction of 287 species is attributed to boat hull fouling. Shipping is the major pathway vector for NIS introductions in all regional seas, its contribution is ranging from 45 % in the Eastern Mediterranean to approximately 82 % in the Black Sea. Corridors are main pathway in the Eastern Mediterranean (>46 % via the Suez Canal) and in the Baltic Sea (14.5 % of all NIS via inland canals). Transport contaminants (directly related to oyster aquaculture) is hold responsible for more than 30 % of NIS introductions in the NE Atlantic (Celtic, Iberian, Icelandic, North Sea). Trends in new NIS introductions exhibit a decreasing rate in the 2006-2017 period, but new species introductions are still present in all regional seas. Decreasing trend indicates that polices are effective if they are fully implemented, since in some countries the number of new marine introduced species via human activity have been reduced to zero.

Key messages

Since 1949, 1,039 NIS have been introduced in European seas. The main pathways for marine NIS introduction are shipping (49.1 %) and introductions via marine and inland corridors (33 %: Suez Canal, inland canals). These are followed by unintentional movement of live organisms as contaminants (11 %) and escapees from aquaria, aquaculture and mariculture (5.1 %). Intentional releases in nature account for just 1.7 %. Among NIS transferred by vessels, most species appear to have been transferred through ballast waters (346 species), while the introduction of 287 species is attributed to boat hull fouling.

Shipping is the major pathway vector for NIS introductions in all regional seas, its contribution is ranging from 45 % in the Eastern Mediterranean to approximately 82 % in the Black Sea. Corridors are main pathway in the Eastern Mediterranean (>46 % via the Suez Canal) and in the Baltic Sea (14.5 % of all NIS via inland canals). Transport contaminants (directly related to oyster aquaculture) is hold responsible for more than 30 % of NIS introductions in the NE Atlantic (Celtic, Iberian, Icelandic, North Sea).

Trends in new NIS introductions exhibit a decreasing rate in the 2006-2017 period, but new species introductions are still present in all regional seas. Decreasing trend indicates that polices are effective if they are fully implemented, since in some countries the number of new marine introduced species via human activity have been reduced to zero.

Are policies on controlling pathways of marine biological invasions effective?

Mode of introduction of non-indigenous species in European Seas after 1949

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All introduction
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Transport - Stowaway
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Temporal variability in mode of introduction of NIS in Europe's Seas, since 1949

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Temporal variability in pathways of NIS introduction at marine subregion level

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Celtic Sea
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North Sea
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Baltic Sea
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Bay of Biscay and Iberian Coast
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Adriatic Sea
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Black Sea
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Western Mediterranean Sea
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Central Mediterranean Sea
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Eastern Mediterranean Sea
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Table