Marine species are introduced to new environments by several means including transport in ships ballast water, biofouling on ships hulls, accidental introductions through aquaculture and by attachment to floating debris in the ocean. Many organisms will find their new environment hostile and will die off but some will thrive, often due to a lack of natural predators in the new environment, and spread to form new populations elsewhere. These are called invasive alien species.
Invasive alien species can have a devastating effect on local ecosystems, adversely affecting biological diversity, ecosystem functioning, and even human health. The rate of aquatic invasions has increased in recent decades and is now considered as one of the key causes of biodiversity changes worldwide.
PML scientists are studying the effects of invasive species on local ecosystems and developing modelling tools to assess the likelihood of success of future invasions and estimate the potential impact on ecosystem structure and biodiversity.
Untreated ballast water is one of the major sources on introduced species. From September 2017 ships will be required to manage their ballast water to remove, render harmless or avoid the uptake or discharge of aquatic organisms as the International Maritime Organization's Ballast Water Convention comes into force.
Through our trading subsidiary PML Applications Ltd we are enabling shipping companies to choose, operate and test ballast water management systems to minimise introductions of non-native species and ensure compliance with regulations. PML Applications Ltd also offer biofouling management services including the development and testing of antifouling technologies to reduce species introductions.
Making a difference
Our research will inform future policy and management of invasive species and develop solutions to minimise the transport of aquatic species thus helping to secure healthy and productive seas and oceans.