Marine Invasive Species – Pathways and Prevention

70% of the Earth is covered by oceans vast beyond the eye can see. In these oceans, lies species that can overtake other native species, if given a chance. Marine invasive alien species are non-indigenous species that transverse through a variety of pathways, on their own or by human activity.   

Labelling practices for non-native species is a measure that can be implemented to prevent them from being let go in the wild. New environments provide favourable conditions for non-native species, in which they can become invasive, especially in the absence of diseases, parasites, and predators that are their natural enemies. Labelling practices that become a common practice in stores and among sellers, would inform consumers about the prospective risks of their purchases and reduce the possibility of release of unwanted pets into the wild. We invite you to read our policy brief ‘Prevention and Management of Marine Invasive Alien Species in the Caribbean.’, as a lot of information on the benefits of labelling practices. 

Many Caribbean countries depend on Tourism, which is an important sector of the economy that generates revenue. Tourism comprises eco-tourism, where tourists visit ecosystems and view unique species and our marine biodiversity. This can be prevented by marine invasive species as marine invasive alien species like the lionfish (Pterois Volitans) threaten our marine biodiversity by altering their habitats, reducing their food sources, or by preying on other fishes and upsetting the balance of the coral reef ecosystems, which many marine lives depend on.  

Ballast water is the main pathway for some marine invasives introduced into the Caribbean region. Microorganisms like algae, crabs, mussels, and bryozoans have been found to attach themselves to ship hulls in a form of fouling or biofouling and in ballast tanks via ballast water. Preventing these organisms is no easy feat, but with the introduction of the Ballast Water Management Convention, all vessels must account for the disposal of their ballast water. The convention has been signed by all countries in the Caribbean region sans Dominica and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. 


BBC – Antarctica: Invasive species ‘hitchhiking’ on ships 

USDA – Pathways 

Policy Brief – Prevention and Management of Marine Invasive Alien Species in the Caribbean 

CaribbeanInvasives – IAS Impact