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The role of Recreational boating in the spread of Invasive Species

Updated: Mar 8, 2023

The GloFouling Partnerships Project has recently collaborated with The Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology (IMarEST), to produce a short segment in ‘Ocean Aware’, a journalist-led documentary film that has been launched on 23 November 2020. This short film draws attention to the challenges facing the oceans, describes global mechanisms for defending them, and showcases stories of science, innovation and sustainability that are transforming the marine sector.

Our short segment (view in full) is focused on explaining the role of recreational boating as a sector often overlooked in relation to the introduction of Invasive Aquatic Species via biofouling. Biofouling or biological fouling is the accumulation of microorganisms, plants, algae, or small animals on boat hull surfaces, and it is a pathway that helps non-indigenous species to spread from one geographical area to another, where they can become invasive and have serious impacts on their adopting habitat.

“There are about 800 alien species in the Mediterranean, which is almost a world record, and it makes it one of the most invaded seas in the world.”

The premiere was held on the IMarEST online platform and attended by various panellists who exchanged views on the different topics showcased in the film. The launch ceremony was opened with the pre-recorded remarks from Mr. Kitack Lim, Secretary-General of International Maritime Organization (IMO).

Opening remarks: Mr. Kitack Lim, Secretary-General, IMO

The film segment dedicated to recreational boating showcased the work undertaken by researchers from the University of Pavia. Dr. Agnese Marchini, an Associate Professor, highlighted that “large commercial vessels stay less time in a port and travel faster than smaller boats. The smaller boats can spend a long time in the marina and then their travel speed is slower, so they create more opportunities for species to attach when they are in the port and to resist when the vessel is moving”.

Dr. Jasmine Ferrario and Mr. Marco Tamburini, a Postdoctoral Researcher and a Doctoral student also at the University of Pavia, explained some of the resources used by marine researchers to study fouling communities and identify non-indigenous species.

Dr. Agnese Marchini, Dr. Jasmine Ferrario and Mr. Marco Tamburini interviews

Mr. Paolo Varrella, president of an important shellfish aquaculture cooperative in the Gulf of La Spezia, also shared his experience about the issue of biofouling in aquaculture farming, showcasing the close relationship between different maritime industry sectors that share the same sea areas. Mr. Varrella noted that even though biofouling have always been present, in the last years it has exploded and the economic impact and toll it has in his industry is very high.

GloFouling Partnerships is calling all maritime industries to take action now, because scientists are recognizing and highlighting the issue of biofouling. Once Invasive Aquatic Species are introduced into a new area they are almost impossible to eradicate. Lilia Khodjet El Khil, Technical Manager of GloFouling Partnerships emphasized the work done by the project and how good biofouling management practices will contribute to reduce the risk of new invasive species.

To watch the film segment on recreational boating produced by GloFouling Partnerships follow this link.

The project has also recently launched a survey about ‘Biofouling management in the recreational boating sector’, aimed at learning about current practices and challenges faced by recreational boaters for preventing biofouling. For more information follow this link.

Survey QR code


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