Thomson Unicomarine has been appointed by the Harwich Haven Authority (HHA) in Essex to undertake research to identify gaps in the knowledge and understanding of marine invasive species.
For this exciting project, the team will analyse the wealth of biological data which has been acquired by Thomson Unicomarine for the HHA over the past five years, to find records of invasive species and their distribution, and to identify gaps in the data and knowledge. One of the outcomes of this project will be the recommendation of options to manage the risk, including management of ballast waters to minimise the introduction of invasive alien species.
Sarah Marjoram, Marine Consultant at Thomson Unicomarine, said: “The increase of the human population, development of communications, and the effects of climate change have contributed to breaking down natural barriers to the spread of plants and animals, which are increasingly transported beyond their natural range and distribution.
“Many marine species have come to the UK as a result of human activity such as shipping, recreational boating and aquaculture and have thrived in environments where they are not normally found. When these species are able to adapt to the conditions of their new environment and compete successfully with native species, they are considered to be ‘invasive’. Established populations of invasive species can become a threat to populations of native species, by competition, predation, introduction of new pathogens or other interactions with the ecosystem and habitats.”
The Thomson Unicomarine team have had a busy year. In addition to the Harwich Haven contract, other marine projects that the team delivered during 2015 include:
- Two large sample analysis contracts for Cefas, creating huge sets of benthic invertebrate abundance and biomass data for their Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ) and Site of Community Importance (SCI) work.
- The team worked on non-UK projects, identifying benthic fauna from West Africa and North America on behalf of commercial clients. Thomson’s specialist marine consultants provided expert advice on the potential impacts of the construction of a new major harbour on the marine environment and local European sites.
- Closer to home, the fisheries team was kept busy on flood alleviation projects around the UK supporting clients in meeting their legal obligations and standards for fish welfare.
“The past year has brought us some really interesting projects and at the start of 2016 we have already picked up a number of new contracts so it looks like we are in for another exciting year!”
Viewers can read the attached “Thomson Ecology’s top five worst marine alien species that are currently populating the seas around the UK.”
(images by Christian Ficher for the Cjhinese Mitten crab; Chris Wood for the Leathery sea squirt; Graça Gaspar for the Sargassum muticum; Hans Hillewaert for the Caprela mutica; and Dann Blackwood for the Carpet sea squirt).