Safeguarding Our Oceans
Invasive aquatic species are one of the greatest threats to global marine biodiversity and ecosystems, and are also
a significant threat to coastal economies and public health. Global economic impacts from invasive aquatic species,
including through disruption of fisheries, fouling of coastal industry and interference with human amenity, are
estimated to exceed 100 billion US dollars per year. These impacts are set to increase in coming years as global
economic activity and therefore the movement of goods and materials around the world increases.
Pacific Island countries are at particular risk as they are totally dependent on imported goods, mostly transported
by ships. These ships are the major vectors of invasive aquatic species, either attached to hulls or carried in ballast
water. The islands that make up Pacific nations are often located adjacent to major trans-oceanic shipping lanes
and are favoured destinations for cruising yachts. A number of introduced species in the region are becoming or
are threatening to become invasive, including the barnacle Chthalamus proteus, several macro-algae species,
harmful planktonic algal species and the Black Striped Mussel (Mytolopsis sallei) from the Gulf of Mexico and the
The serious threats posed by introduced invasive aquatic species, combined with the extremely high value and
significance of coastal and marine resources to the people of the Pacific, highlights the importance of vigilance and
controls against marine introductions.
Case study: Euchema undermines coral reefs in Hawai‘i
The seaweed Eucheuma denticulatum was introduced into Kaneohe Bay, Ohau, Hawai‘i in the 1970s for
aquaculture purposes. The seaweed is a fast growing species and rapidly covered 80 per cent of the reefs in the
bay. It spreads by vegetative means and grows between crevices of coral reefs undermining the integrity of reefs.
The seaweed competes and eventually overwhelms live corals allowing it to dominate the bay. During strong
storms, seaweeds are dislodged and are dumped along the coastline producing a foul smell and an eye-sore for
coastal communities, visitors and tourists.
The Pacific Islands Regional Oceans Policy, Oceans Framework & Oceanscape
The Pacific Regional Oceans Policy (PIROP) was endorsed by the Pacific Island Forum Leaders in 2002. The
Oceans Policy provides the framework and strategy for regional coordination, integration and collaboration on
ocean issues with the overall goal of improving ocean governance and sustainable use of ocean resources. Marine
invasive species are a critical component covered in the Oceans Policy. Under theme 4 of maintaining the health of
the Ocean - it calls on all to address threats from introduced and invasive species through a coordinated approach
at both regional and national levels. It further encourages improving understanding and raising awareness of the
threats posed by invasive species and management options. The Pacific Oceanscape provides a catalyst for the
implementation of the PIROP through six strategic priorities ranging from governance, sustainable development
and adapting to a changing environment. The Pacific Islands Regional Oceans Policy needs reviewing and
Shipping-Related Introduced Marine Pests in the Pacific - (SRIMPPAC)
The SRIMP-PAC strategy was approved at the 17th SPREP members meeting in 2006 in Noumea, New Caledonia.
Its aim is to maintain, protect and enhance the quality of coastal and marine environments by preventing,
minimizing and controlling the introduction of shipping-related marine pests to Pacific Island Countries and
Territories (PICTs). There are four key objectives of the Strategy:
Assess and monitor the current and potential risks of shipping-related Introduced Marine Pests (IMPs) in the
Pacific islands region.
Assist PICTs to develop better capacity to effectively prevent and respond to shipping-related IMPs,
Provide a financing and sustainability plan, which allows effective implementation of SRIMP-PAC actions and
Provide a framework and mechanism for regional cooperation, coordination and harmonization of IMP
management activities, including links with similar activities that address non-shipping vectors, both within
the region and with Pacific-Rim countries.
The Strategy contains a detailed workplan that focuses on a number of thematic areas including institutional
arrangements, communication and awareness, risk assessment, surveys and monitoring, legislation, capacity
building and information management. This Strategy is currently not funded.
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