Marine Animals: Biodiversity

Environment Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 22nd October 2008.

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Photo of Bill Wiggin Bill Wiggin Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the number of non-native invasive species identified in UK waters in each year since 1997; what types of non-native species were identified in each year since 1997; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Huw Irranca-Davies Huw Irranca-Davies Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) (Marine and Natural Environment)

My Department does not currently compile annual estimates of the number of non-native species identified in UK waters. However, under the Invasive Non-Native Species Framework Strategy for Great Britain, we are commissioning a dedicated directory of information about presence and spread of non-native species in Great Britain. This will aim to collate information from surveillance and monitoring activity both terrestrially and in the marine area. Records of non-native species are also being collated on an all-Ireland basis.

Within the UK, recent audits of non-native species have been commissioned in England and Scotland.

In Scotland, an audit was conducted in 2001 and efforts since then have included co-ordination at the GB level and work by Scottish Natural Heritage on a Species Action Framework. This sets out a strategic approach to species management in Scotland and was based on a review of key priorities. The framework identified six invasive non-native species as the focus of new action for five years from 2007. Further details can be found at:

For England, a database of non-native species introductions was produced as part of an audit commissioned by Natural England; this extends up to 2005. It indicates that since 1997 two to three new species, on average, have been identified each year in marine and freshwater environments in England as shown in the following table. The majority of these new introductions have been animals and most have been found in the freshwater environment. Of these freshwater animals, three species have been identified as potentially invasive, while four of the marine animals have been similarly categorised.

Non-native aquatic species observed in the wild in England, 1997 to 2005( 1)
Type Total number of species Mean number of species per year
Marine animal 6 0.9
Marine plants 1 0.1
Freshwater animal 11 1.6
Total 18 2.6
( 1) Source:

Audit of non-native species in England. English Nature. ISSN 0967-876X.

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