Non-native species can become invasive, altering local ecology and out-competing native species. However, we currently lack evidence on the impacts that some of these species have on the environment, in particular to features of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and how best to incorporate the presence and potential impacts caused by invasive non-native species (INNS) in the assessment of site condition.
The Improvement Programme for England’s Natura 2000 sites (IPENS) identified INNS as a key issue impacting our Natura 2000 sites. The theme plan of key actions includes gathering evidence on impacts to encourage uptake of best practice and also gathering evidence to help determine priority species to address.
The aims of this project were to carry out a literature review and gather evidence from stakeholders on the environmental (with a particular focus on MPA features) and socioeconomic impacts of 8 key marine INNS.
This report provides a useful reference source for information about both the economic and environmental impacts of 8 marine INNS which will help feed into improvements in our advice to operators on the potential impacts of invasive species, in turn helping us to encourage the uptake of mitigation and best practice to reduce the introduction and spread of these species. For example, new information previously unpublished and gathered from stakeholders includes anecdotal evidence of economic impacts from the trumpet tube worm F. enigmaticus and the leathery sea-squirt S. clava.
The focus of this report to provide evidence on potential susceptibility of MPA features in particular and the generation of a matrix tool which can be adapted in future to incorporate more species and new information will provide our staff and others with overview of potential risks and priorities. This information will feed into the guidance being developed on the condition assessment process as it will help staff to assess the potential threats of invasive species on the MPA.
Finally, the information gathered in this report will be provided to the GB Non Native Species Secretariat to input into risk assessments currently being written or not yet started for these 8 species. The recommendation to review the risk assessment process to include specific impacts to MPAs will also be taken forward for consideration.