Harwich Haven Authority to carry out marine research on invasive species

Harwich Haven Authority (HHA) is getting ahead of forthcoming environmental legislation by carrying out a new marine study.

A convention under the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) is due to come into force during 2016 regarding the management of a ship’s ballast water. Since it could require new surveys and studies on marine invasive non-native species, HHA is implementing research based on extensive data that it has already collated in this area.

Marine non-native species are animals and plants that have been introduced to UK marine waters, sometimes on the hulls or in the ballast tanks of commercial vessels. Some species such as the Chinese Mitten Crab and ‘Killer Shrimps’ are fairly well known whilst others are less so, such as Slipper Limpets, Japanese Wire Weed and Carpet Sea Squirts.

HHA has appointed Thomson Ecology to review all the biological surveys carried out in the past five years by HHA and other local organisations such as the Environment Agency and Natural England. The review will look into the range and number of identified non-native species, and advise on the likely impact on the local environment. The results will enable HAA to consider what further survey and analysis might be required in the future.

John Brien, Harbour Engineer of Harwich Haven Authority, said:

“There is growing interest in monitoring non-native species in our waters, and legislation has been introduced to identify the species that pose a particular threat and introduce measures to control their spread, if possible. We are carrying out the first stage of what may become a wider scale study in collaboration with other regulators and conservation bodies in the area.”

 Neil Glendinning, CEO, Harwich Haven Authority, added:

“We recognise we are tasked with the important responsibility to ensure the protection of the environmentally critical habitats in the haven’s ports whilst, at the same time, preserving and improving vessel access to our nationally significant ports. This study is just another example of how we balance the needs of both the environment and the commercial activity in our area of jurisdiction.”