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Global change: Stowaways threaten fisheries in the Arctic
Date:11/4/2013

Just think of the warty comb jelly or sea walnut, as it is also known. It has caused tremendous damage to fisheries in the Black Sea after arriving in ballast water from its original habitat along the East coast of North America. This example should serve as a warning to everyone to take care and not to introduce new species into our waters.

In the Arctic, the cold water has so far prevented harmful low latitude species from establishing themselves but this will change as the climate becomes warmer. In addition, the expected warmer climate will lead to an increasing number of ships in the Arctic as the routes through the Northeast Passage and the Northwest Passage are becoming ever more navigable. All in all the researchers expect a much greater pressure on the marine ecosystems of the Arctic, where fishing is very important for the population in e.g. Norway and Greenland.

An international team of researchers led by PhD candidate Chris Ware from the University of Troms in Norway has for the first time been able to calculate the risk of new species establishing themselves in Arctic waters. Specifically, the researchers have investigated the maritime traffic to Svalbard. Chris Ware explains:

"For the first time we have shown that in the future the port of departure will be more similar to the port of destination in the Arctic than it is today with regard to climate and the environment. This development will increase the chance of survival for those organisms that could arrive with ballast water or through biofouling.

One example could be the Red King Crab, a species that would thrive in the Arctic. This is an example of an animal that could change the balance between the current species, as it would become very dominant in the fragile environment," explains Chris Ware.

Other potential invaders are the shore crab, certain tunicates like Didemnum vexillum and the so-called "Japanese skeleton shrimp" (Caprella mutica).

The survey show
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Contact: Chris Ware
cware@utas.edu.au
61-497-568-763
Aarhus University
Source:Eurekalert  

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