16 May 2013 | By Dorette du Plessis
The European Inland Fisheries and Aquaculture Advisory Commission (EIFAAC) and Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) recently hosted a conference for scientists, managers and policy makers across the European Union. Entitled Freshwater Invasives: Networking for Strategy (FINS), the conference took place in Galway, Ireland from 8-12 April 2013.
The Centre for Invasion Biology (C·I·B) was represented by South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity (SAIAB) Principal Scientist and core team member Dr Olaf Weyl and C·I·B/SAIAB Postdoctoral Fellow Dr Darragh Woodford.
The meeting was created as a forum for international experts to reach a consensus on the 20 most pressing policy issues related to aquatic invasive species in Europe. This “top 20” list would be written up as a policy document following the conference, to be presented to the European Union by EIFAAC.
To facilitate the workshop process, 12 international experts on aquatic invasions, whose fields included impact and risk assessment, biosecurity, economics and policy, were invited to give keynote addresses. Dr Olaf Weyl was invited to present a talk on alien fish policy and management in South Africa. The talk demonstrated that in South Africa, many invasive fishes are conflict species, whose negative environmental impacts are countered by positive socio-economic impacts.
The conference also hosted a permanent poster display, where delegates presented posters on research pertaining to the policy implications of aquatic invasive species. Dr Woodford presented a poster on the biosecurity threat posed by inter-basin water transfer (IBWT) schemes, and received the EIFAAC award for the best poster at the conference.
The award-winning poster showcased on-going research being conducted by SAIAB and the C·I·B, with funding from the Water Research Commission (WRC), on the processes that lead to successful establishment of alien species in freshwater environments. The research demonstrates how water transfer canals act as corridors for the continuous introduction of fishes into catchments. The study indicates that, without adequate engineering to prevent the transfer of aquatic organisms from the start, new invasions via IBWTs are foreseeable.