10 Mar 2009

Pacific Islands warned about letting invasive species into their waters

9:48 pm on 10 March 2009

There are calls for Pacific Island countries to tackle the introduction of invasive species into their waters.

The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme, or SPREP, are meeting in Suva, Fiji to convey the issue to representatives in the Pacific region.

SPREP's Marine Pollution Advisor Anthony Talouli says invasive species can either be carried in through ballast water used to stabilise unladen ships and through fouling on the ships' hull.

He says there is limited awareness of the threat posed by foreign organisms being shipped into the Pacific.

"It affects fisheries, so people's livelihoods and their source of income. It also affects their health. The invasive species could produce very poisoness and toxic substances that could be absorbed by seashells, fish, and when eaten by humans, could then cause severe health effects."

Anthony Talouli says SPREP and IMO are now aiming to sign up countries to a Ballast Water Management Convention to create more awareness.