Amendments to an international treaty aimed at preventing the spread of potentially invasive species in ships' ballast water entered into force on 13 October 2019. The International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments, 2004 (the BWM Convention) was adopted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), a specialized agency of the United Nations, to address this problem. The BWM Convention entered into force in 2017. The amendments formalise an implementation schedule to ensure ships manage their ballast water to meet a specified standard ("D-2 standard") aimed at ensuring that viable organisms are not released into new sea areas, and make mandatory the Code for Approval of Ballast Water Management Systems, which sets out how ballast water management systems used to achieve the D-2 standard have to be assessed and approved. This will help ensure that aquatic organisms and pathogens are removed or rendered harmless before the ballast water is released into a new location – and avoid the spread of invasive species as well as potentially harmful pathogens.
Invasive Species Resources
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International Maritime Organization.
Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation. Division of Environmental Health. State Veterinarian.
In 2019, the Alaska Office of the State Veterinarian, in collaboration with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and the University of Alaska, began the Alaska Submit-A-Tick Program. Through this program, individuals who find ticks on themselves, their family members, pets, or wildlife (e.g. hunted or trapped animals) can submit ticks for species identification and pathogen testing. Researchers are asking Alaskans to submit ticks to help determine which tick species are currently in the state. Tick submissions will also help us learn more about how ticks are being imported into Alaska so that we can create effective strategies to limit their introduction. Ticks can transmit bacteria, parasites, and viruses that can cause diseases in humans and wildlife. Pathogen testing allows us to assess tickborne disease risk in the state.
USDA. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
The United States Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has analyzed the potential environmental effects of establishing an integrated management strategy to control cogongrass in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, and South Carolina. The draft environmental assessment is now available for comment. Cogongrass is an invasive exotic grass found on public and private property, along roadways, in forests, and on farmland. This federally regulated noxious weed grows rapidly, reducing forest productivity, harming wildlife habitat and ecosystems, and encroaching on pastures and hayfields. Because of cogongrass' impact on agriculture and forest industries, Congress has given APHIS funding to partner with Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, and South Carolina to control the spread of this weed. APHIS is proposing is an integrated management strategy that uses preventive, cultural, mechanical, biological, and chemical methods to control cogongrass in key areas of its distribution. APHIS invites the public to review and comment on this environmental assessment by April 1, 2020.
UN. FAO. Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific.
Invasive Carp Regional Coordinating Committee.
The Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee announced the release of its 2021 Asian Carp Action Plan, a comprehensive portfolio of projects focused on Great Lakes protection.
University of Kentucky. College of Agriculture, Food, and Environment.
The Asian longhorned tick, which preys on a variety of hosts including humans and wild and domestic animals, has been found in Kentucky. This new tick is known to attack animals in large numbers and will be a concern to livestock producers, wildlife enthusiasts and pet owners. The tick has been found in small numbers on elk in Martin County and black bear in Floyd County. It was found in large numbers on a bull in Metcalfe County in the south-central part of the state. Individuals who find a usually large number of ticks on their pet or livestock should contact their local veterinarian. Those who find single ticks they think might be an Asian longhorned tick should work with their county extension agent for agriculture and natural resources to submit the sample to UK entomologists for positive identification.
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (Australia).
A new report, Fighting Plagues and Predators: Australia’s Path to a Pest and Weed-Free Future (PDF | 12 MB), reveals the environment is facing a "sliding doors" moment, with two possible futures for Australia, depending on the decisions made today. It highlights a looming wave of new extinctions and outlines two futures for Australia, one based on an unsustainable ‘business as usual’ approach and the other based on implementing targeted actions that will help save our unique biodiversity. The report pegs the conservative cost of damage caused by invasive species in Australia – predominantly weeds, feral cats, rabbits and fire ants – at $390 billion over the past six decades and around $25 billion each year and growing.
National Environmental Science Programme (Australia). Threatened Species Recovery Hub.
New research by the Threatened Species Recovery Hub has shown that invasive or pest species are a problem for 1,257 threatened species in Australia, or about four out of five species. The research which has been published in the scientific journal Pacific Conservation Biology also identified the top ten invasive species based on how many threatened species they impact. Lead researcher Stephen Kearney from the University of Queensland said many people may be surprised at which species top the list. “Rabbits, a plant root disease and feral pigs are the top three pest species impacting Australia’s threatened species,” Mr Kearney said.
CABI has highlighted the top 20 crop pests and diseases for possible prioritization in the Eastern Caribbean as part of a special presentation given to the Caribbean Plant Health Directors Forum (CPHD) aimed at strengthening food security in the region and further afield. Dr Yelitza Colmenarez, CABI’s Centre Director, Brazil, told the conference of CPHD – with the participation of key partners including the FAO, IICA, OIRSA, USDA-APHIS, CIRAD, CARDI, CAHFSA and CABI Member Countries from the Caribbean – that the introduction of new pest and pathogen species are a serious threat to food security within the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and globally. With the help of a range of CABI tools and platforms, including the Crop Protection Compendium, Invasive Species Compendium, Horizon Scanning Tool and Pest Risk Analysis Tool, Dr. Colmenarez says 20 key insects, bacteria, fungus and viruses pose a particular threat that needs to be identified, monitored and mitigated.
Canada's coasts and waterways are vital to our environment, livelihoods, and economy, and must be protected. Ballast water, which helps keep vessels stable in the water, can accidentally introduce and spread aquatic invasive species, like the zebra mussel, if released in the water untreated. To further protect Canadian waters, the Government of Canada is taking action to limit the introduction and spread of aquatic invasive species in ballast water. Today, the Canadian Minister of Transport announced the coming into force of the new Ballast Water Regulations to strengthen existing rules for vessels on international voyages and the introduction of new rules for vessels which remain in Canada and on the Great Lakes. These regulations, which replace the Ballast Water Control and Management Regulations, apply to vessels in Canadian waters and to Canadian vessels anywhere in the world. Vessels are now required to:
- plan their ballast water management and reduce the number of organisms in their ballast water, typically by installing a ballast water management system; and
- carry a valid certificate, keep records, and be regularly surveyed and inspected. Smaller vessels may follow an equivalent approach tailored to their operations and size.
Smithsonian Institution. Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.
Urban legends about the origins of canal grass in Panama abound, but the Smithsonian has new evidence that puts the question to rest. Canal grass is an invasive weed, native to Asia. Because its tiny seeds blow in the wind, it readily invades clearings and spreads to form impenetrable stands by budding from tillers and rhizomes. Once established, canal grass is challenging to eliminate.
UN. Food and Agriculture Organization.
Due to the impact of climate change, plant pests that ravage economically important crops are becoming more destructive and posing an increasing threat to food security and the environment, finds a scientific review released this week. The Scientific Review on the Impact of Climate Change on Plant Pests - A global challenge to prevent and mitigate plant pest risks in agriculture, forestry and ecosystems was prepared under the auspices of the Secretariat of the International Plant Protection Convention and is one of the key initiatives of the International Year of Plant Health, which is coming to an end this month. "The key findings of this review should alert all of us on how climate change may affect how infectious, distributed and severe pests can become around the world," said the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Qu Dongyu. "The review clearly shows that the impact of climate change is one of the greatest challenges the plant health community is facing," added Qu.
North American Invasive Species Management Association.
A new invasive species coalition is celebrating significant milestones in preventing expansion of invasive species after the first anniversary of an important agreement. The North American Invasive Species Management Association, Wildlife Forever, the National Park Service, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are working to implement on-the-ground strategies to engage the American public and help prevent the spread of invasive species under the new agreement.
Climate change is having an important influence on invasive species. The increase in temperatures, rainfall, humidity and drought can facilitate their spread and establishment, creating new opportunities for them to become invasive. For additional information, see the following CABI resources:
Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
The Maryland Department of Agriculture has confirmed the first spotted lanternfly hatch of 2020. The first instar nymph of the season was reported by a department employee while surveying for the pest in the upper northeast corner of Cecil County near the Pennsylvania border.
See additional resources on the Maryland Department of Agriculture's site for Spotted Lanternfly for up-to-date information. For questions related to the quarantine, permitting, treatment, or to report a sighting of the spotted lanternfly, especially outside of the quarantine zone, call 410-841-5920 or email DontBug.MD@maryland.gov. If you report a spotted lanternfly via email, please provide the location of the sighting and your contact information.
NeoBiota 67: 485-510.
Invasive species can have severe impacts on ecosystems, economies, and human health. Though the economic impacts of invasions provide important foundations for management and policy, up-to-date syntheses of these impacts are lacking. To produce the most comprehensive estimate of invasive species costs within North America (including the Greater Antilles) to date, we synthesized economic impact data from the recently published InvaCost database (see related research article: InvaCost, a public database of the economic costs of biological invasions worldwide (Sep 8, 2020).
See also: This article is part of NeoBiota 67: The economic costs of biological invasions around the world.
USDA. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
Effective immediately, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is issuing a Federal Order (Oct 14, 2021; PDF | 171 KB) that expands the existing imported fire ant (IFA) quarantine areas in North Carolina and Tennessee. APHIS is taking this action to prevent the interstate spread of IFA. APHIS is taking these actions based upon verification from the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the Tennessee Department of Agriculture’s Division of Consumer and Industry Services that IFA is present and established in the areas listed. For additional information on the Federal IFA regulatory program, please contact the IFA National Policy Manager, Herbert Bolton, at (301) 851-3594 or email@example.com.
Australian Government. Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment.
The exotic plant pest fall armyworm has been detected for the first time in Australia, in a network of surveillance traps on the northern Torres Strait islands of Saibai and Erub. Head of Biosecurity at the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, Lyn O'Connell, said the caterpillar stage of the fall armyworm, also known as Spodoptera frugiperda, damages many crops across Africa and Asia vital to human food security, such as rice, maize and sorghum. "Everyone can do their part to protect Australia from biosecurity risks like fall armyworm by being aware of what can and cannot be brought to Australia from overseas or from the Torres Strait region and reporting any unexpected pests, plant matter or soil."
Adult moths of fall armyworm were detected in surveillance traps monitored by the Northern Australia Quarantine Strategy. These traps were set up as part of preparedness activities for early detection as fall armyworm is a strong flyer and has been spreading rapidly through Southeast Asia countries in recent months. For more information, see Fall Armyworm and Other Exotic Armyworms from the Australian Department of Agriculture.
Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme.
Four new publications have been added to the 'Pacific Invasive Battler Series,' and are now available for free download from the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), to help Pacific practitioners, environmental managers, government and community members in specific areas of invasive species management.
Developed through the Pacific Regional Invasive Species Management Support Service (PRISMSS), the Battler Series is an important resource for those working to restore ecosystems and manage invasive species. It provides tested best practice approaches through step by step guidance, case studies and visual aid for those battling invasive species. The series provides information and case-studies that can assist those working in the field and is written in a user-friendly way. There are now 15 publications in the Pacific Invasive Battler Series, and they are available for download on the Battler Resource Base.