Marine non-indigenous species

  • Image, Marine pests.

    Marine non-indigenous (exotic) species arrive in New Zealand waters on the hulls of international vessels (biofouling) or in discharged ballast waters. Some have little impact or cannot survive in New Zealand waters; others have a negative impact on our native habitats and species and become pests. They can compete with, and prey on, indigenous species, modify natural habitats, affect marine industries or can alter ecosystem processes. The potential impact of non-indigenous species on our native habitats and species means they could threaten our cultural and natural heritage, as well as economic activities such as commercial and recreational fishing, shellfish harvesting, and aquaculture.

    We classified Marine non-indigenous species as a national indicator

    Key findings

    Image, Trend not assessed.  Trend not assessed

    In 2015, 351 non-indigenous species were identified in New Zealand marine waters, of which 187 had become established.

    • The cumulative number of non-indigenous species in New Zealand waters in 2015 rose by 10 percent (318 to 351) since 2009 when the baseline surveys and national review were completed across New Zealand.
    • Between 2010 and 2015, 33 new-to-New Zealand species were recorded: 12 of these have self-sustaining populations in our waters.
    • Auckland’s Waitemata harbour has the highest rates of occupancy by key non-indigenous species.

    Figure 1

    Note: The data are based on all verified records of non-indigenous species. ‘Established’ means the species has self-sustaining populations in New Zealand; ‘not established’ means the species has been recorded in New Zealand, but is not known to be established. The time series starts in 2009, when the baseline surveys and national review were completed across New Zealand.

    Figure 2

    Note: The data are based on records submitted to the Marine Invasives Taxonomic Service records and from systematic surveys undertaken through the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Marine High-Risk Site Surveillance (MHRSS) programme. ‘Established’ means the species has self-sustaining populations in New Zealand; ‘not established’ means the species has been recorded in New Zealand, but is not known to be established. The time series starts in 2010, after the baselines surveys and national review were completed across New Zealand in 2009.

    Figure 3

    Note: The data are based on records submitted to the Marine Invasives Taxonomic Service and from systematic surveys undertaken through the MHRSS programme.

    Figure 4

    Note: To measure the spread of non-indigenous species over time, harbours are divided into squares (grid cells). Each year scientists measure the number of grid cells in which each monitored non-indigenous species is found. For this indicator, each grid cell is 100 metres by 100 metres.
    The data are based on records submitted to the Marine Invasives Taxonomic Service records and from systematic surveys undertaken through the MHRSS programme. The time series starts in 2009, when the baseline surveys and national review were completed across New Zealand.

    Figure 5

    Note: To measure the spread of non-indigenous species over time, harbours are divided into squares (grid cells). Each year scientists measure the number of grid cells in which each monitored non-indigenous species is found. For this indicator, each grid cell is 100 metres by 100 metres.
    The data are based on records submitted to the Marine Invasives Taxonomic Service records and from systematic surveys undertaken through the MHRSS programme. The time series starts in 2009, when the baseline surveys and national review were completed across New Zealand. Auckland data is from measurements in the Waitemata harbour.

    Definition and methodology

    The Ministry for Primary Industries coordinates and undertakes monitoring to identify where exotic species have taken hold and determine what management measures to take. Monitoring focuses on sites where incursions by exotic marine species are most likely to occur. Species can occur at more than one location.

    Information about exotic species in New Zealand waters is based on four sets of information:

    • records from the national Marine High-Risk Site Surveillance (MHRSS) programme (started in 2002) in monitored ports of first entry for international vessels
    • records submitted to the Marine Invasives Taxonomic Service (MITS)
    • records collected during Port Baseline Biological Surveys (PBBS) between 2002 and 2007
    • two national synthetic reviews (Cranfield et al, 1998; Kospartov et al, 2010).

    Figure 1 is informed by verified records from all four data sources; figure 2 is informed by MHRSS and MITS records; figures 3, 4, and 5 are informed by MHRSS data only. Data sources for all figures are as recommended by Inglis and Seaward (2016).

    We selected the following eight key species to report on, as they cover a range of life habits, taxonomic and trophic groups, and occur in different environments: 

    • Asian bag mussel, Arcuatula senhousia
    • Asian paddle crab, Charybdis japonica
    • Australian droplet tunicate, Eudistoma elongatum
    • Green tail or ‘greasy-back’ prawn, Metapenaeus bennettae
    • Mediterranean fanworm, Sabella spallanzanii
    • Clubbed tunicate, Styela clava
    • Fragile clam, Theora (Endopluera) lubrica
    • Undaria, Undaria pinnatifida.

    The eight species have a wide range of impacts: some modify natural habitats (Asian bag mussel, Mediterranean fanworm, and Undaria), some are predators of native species (Asian paddle crab), some are pests to marine industries (Australian droplet tunicate, clubbed tunicate, Mediterranean fanworm, and Undaria), one is an indicator of pollution (fragile clam), and others affect the cycle of nutrient in marine ecosystems (Mediterranean fanworm and Undaria). Some arrived in New Zealand recently while others are long established (Inglis & Seaward, 2016).

    Data quality

     Topic Classification   Relevance Accuracy 
     Pests, diseases, and exotic species  National indicator

     Image, Direct relevance.
    Direct

     accuracy-high
    High

    References

    Kospartov, M, Inglis, G, Seaward, K, van den Brink, A, D’Archino, R, & Ahyong, S (2010). Non-indigenous and cryptogenic marine species in New Zealand – Current state of knowledge: Interim report. NIWA Research Report prepared for MAF-BNZ Project BNZ10740. Wellington: NIWA.

    Cranfield, HJ, Gordon, D, Willan, R, Marshall, B, Battershill, C, Francis, M, Nelson, W, Glasby, C, & Read, G (1998). Adventive marine species in New Zealand. NIWA technical report no. 34. Retrieved from www.researchgate.net.

    Inglis, G & Seaward, K (2016). Indicators of non-indigenous species in marine systems. Prepared for the Ministry for the Environment. Wellington: NIWA.

    Archived pages

    See Marine pests (archived October 2016).

    Updated 27 October 2016

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