Raise Awareness for the Reporting of Introduced Marine Pests
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The issue we face is the lack of awareness for introduced pests in Australian waters. These animals are taking the space, food sources, light and may even feed on them. Introduced species are eventually going to take over our waters, and over 90% of plants and animals living in Australia's southern waters are found nowhere else in the world.
How does this affect you?
Some pests are microscopic organisms that in high levels are toxic to humans. Shellfish feed by filtering such organisms from the water and can accumulate them in high levels when the right conditions exist. This has a double effect, creating human health issues as well as causing the affected shellfish beds to be closed down and loss of income for the operator.
Reduce the attractiveness of coastal areas
Some pests may infest the shoreline to such an extent that the area becomes unattractive and its value as an amenity is reduced. This image shows a shoreline infested with Chinese mitten crab. This crab burrows into the shore causing erosion. It can also damage fishing gear and affect aquaculture operations. It also hosts liver fluke which is harmful to human health.
Introduced pests we need to be aware of:
Northern Pacific Seastar - Asterias amurensis
A large seastar with a small central disc and five distinct arms that narrow to pointed tips. They are generally yellow, but can be seen with red and purple also. They generally reach 40-50cm in diameter. The northern Pacific seastar is an active predator and eats many of the native sealife on the Victorian shores. It eats shellfish, prising them open with its arms, this diet poses a threat to the species and the wild shellfish fisheries,
Wakame - Undaria pinnatifida
A brown seaweed that can reach an overall length of about 0.5-3 metres. It grows all year round and has two lifecycle stages. A macroscopic stage- the sporophyte, usually present through the late winter to early summer months, and a microscopic haploid stage- the gametophyte, present during the remaining months. Wakame is a pest to the marine environment because it can cause fouling and is taking over large areas where seasonal algae grow,
Pacific Oyster - Crassostrea gigas
The Pacific oyster varies in colour, usually being a pale to off white. Adult oysters can grow from 8cm to 40cm in length. They attach to any hard, stable surface in sheltered waters, including other oysters of the same or different species. The impact of the Pacific oyster is its competition with native oyster species, it competes for food and space, and may even smother them. The introduction of this oyster has had an impact on local, long standing fisheries that thrive on native rock oysters
Green Shore Crab – Carcinus maenus
The green shore crab has the ability to survive in almost any sheltered or semi-sheltered habitat, including habitats with sand, mud, rock substrates, submerged aquatic vegetation and emergent marsh. It can withstand a wide range of salinity and temperatures. This crab is large, predatory and matures at about 3 years of age. A female can carry up to 200,000 fertilised eggs under her abdomen at one time. When small, they feed mainly on soft shelled animals and plants and hard shelled animals (molluscs, crustaceans and polychaetes) as they grow larger, They impact the environment by preying on native animals, as well as stealing their food sources.
European Fan Worm - Sabella spallanzanii
Sabella spallanzanii is a large tube dwelling worm with a crown of feeding tentacles formed in two layers. One layer of tentacles is distinctly spiralled, it can reach up to 10-15cm in diameter. They can reduce fish numbers, foul boats and reduce their efficiency on the water, destroy aquaculture (marine farms) and cost millions of dollars to control.
New Zealand Screw Shell – Maoricolpus roseus
A species of sea snail, growing up to 9cm and generally residing in shallow waters. Their population is so dense that there are thousands of shells I one square meter, It has resulted in a change to the sea floor that causes problems for scallop fishermen.
How we can solve this problem:
We can work together to solve this problem by raising awareness to report and remove these species, and making sure people know what they are so they can report them. Another prevention solution is to do thorough checks on ballast water that comes into our waters, as this is one of the main contributors to the problem.
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