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Environmental impacts of invasive alien species in aquaculture

Final Report Summary - IMPASSE (Environmental impacts of invasive alien species in aquaculture)

The IMPASSE project addressed concerns regarding the impacts of non-native and locally absent species in aquaculture. The project overall goal was to develop principles for environmentally sound practices, to formulate guidelines on quarantine and risk assessment protocols and, finally, to develop procedures for assessing the potential impacts of invasive non-native species.

IMPASSE's specific objectives were therefore as follows.
1. Review the introductions and translocations in aquaculture and assess their economic importance.
2. Audit the state of knowledge on the results of different operations, namely the environmental and economic impacts and genetic interactions with wild populations, and perform an analysis of the economic importance of restocking.
3. Develop risk assessment protocols, with specific models and subroutine evaluations, for future aquatic species’ introductions. Special attention was given on the biological safety of modern land-based closed aquaculture facilities.
4. Provide guidelines for quarantine procedures to account for phylum-specific peculiarities, developmental stages and risk levels.
5. Formulate guidelines for environmentally sound practices for introductions, translocations and stock enhancement operations.

The project was organised in six work packages (WPs), which undertook numerous activities and ensured timely completion of the project goals. Managers and policymakers were therefore provided with the necessary knowledge in order to propose mitigation measures for minimisation of aquaculture adverse impacts and to develop relevant policy and legislative frameworks at European and national levels.

Firstly, information on the scale and impacts of fishes’ insertions was collected and a relevant database was constructed in order to underpin the development of protocols and guidelines. In addition, mechanisms for assessing the introductions’ economic and social effects were examined, because of the considerable influence of invasive species on ecosystems’ viability. A review of existing risk assessment protocols was therefore conducted and a scheme to evaluate the associated risks was developed using a modular framework approach. The utilised tools were accessible via the project website.

The extent to which legislation covered alien invasive species was examined and found to be limited; therefore a European Council regulation, accompanied by application strategies’ proposals, was considered necessary for the implementation of a complete regulatory framework. Moreover, a report on quarantine procedures for numerous organisms was prepared, so as to minimise pathogens and diseases associated with species’ insertions. Information on the technical characteristics of aquaculture facilities was also provided.

The developed guidelines and protocols were delivered to various end users and training sessions were organised in order to increase stakeholders’ acceptance. Moreover, participation in conferences and other dissemination activities were planned to extend beyond the official IMPASSE elaboration time. As a result, the support of the project to the European Commission was considerable.