A recent JRC-led article found that the number of alien/non-indigenous marine species in EU Member States were strongly underestimated in initial reports, and calls for greater coherence in monitoring practices and guidelines for determining the status of specific species groups.
In collaboration with national experts, the authors revised the non-indigenous species (NIS ) reported by Member States in 2012 based on latest knowledge and data from the JRC's European Alien Species Information Network (EASIN).
They found the highest numbers of NIS to be reported by Italy, France, Spain and Greece, the lowest by Slovenia, Lithuania, Latvia and Finland.
This revision represents a milestone in protecting the EU marine environment from NIS under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, as it helps more accurately determine the number of new introductions since 2012 per Member State.
Non-indigenous species in the European seas
Non-indigenous species (NIS) are animals and plants introduced into a natural environment different from the one in which they originate.
Around 800 NIS are reported as being established in the European seas, several of which exhibit invasive behaviour.
These have a significant negative impact on marine ecosystem services and biodiversity, and must therefore be carefully and effectively managed to minimise the threats they pose to the environment.
Some of the most widespread NIS across EU marine waters were found to include the Australian tubeworm (Ficopomatus enigmaticus, native to Australasia, introduced through shipping and aquaculture contaminant) and Dead man's fingers (Codium fragile, a seaweed native to the Pacific near Japan, introduced through shipping and aquaculture).
Member State reporting
The Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) aims to achieve Good Environmental Status (GES) of the EU's marine waters by 2020 and to protect the resource base of marine-related economic and social activities.
The MSFD requires EU Member States to consider NIS when developing their marine monitoring, assessment and management strategies.
NIS are treated as a distinct Descriptor (D2) of GES in the context of the MSFD, which aims to ensure that: “Non-indigenous species introduced by human activities are at levels that do not adversely alter the ecosystem”.
By reﬁning the national baseline inventories that were submitted by EU Member States in 2012, this article provides important information for assessing the marine environment status in relation to NIS, and sets an important and scientifically validated cornerstone towards the harmonisation and coherent implementation of the MSFD.
- Non-indigenous species refined national baseline inventories: A synthesis in the context of the European Union's Marine Strategy Framework Directive
- Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD)
- European Alien Species Information Network - EASIN
- Publication date
- 7 August 2019