About the Marine Invasive Species Program
The Marine Invasive Species Program seeks to be a world-leading program that reduces the risk of aquatic nonindigenous species introduction into California's waters. We strive to accomplish this goal through:
- The development, implementation, and enforcement of innovative vessel biofouling and vessel ballast water management strategies and polices.
- The use of best available technology and peer reviewed science.
- Partnerships with stakeholders to improve awareness of invasive species issues and assess program efficacy.
The Marine Invasive Species Program in Action
The Program began in 1999 with the passage of California's Ballast Water Management for Control of Nonindigenous Species Act, which addressed the threat of species introductions from vessels arriving at California's ports. In 2003, the Marine Invasive Species Act was passed, reauthorizing and expanding the 1999 Act. Subsequent amendments to the Act and additional legislation further expanded the Program's scope.
Nonindigenous species are organisms that pose significant threats to human health, the economy, and the environment. Nonindigenous species are intentionally or unintentionally transported through human activities to new habitats such as California's marine, estuarine, and freshwater environments. Once a nonindigenous species is moved, becomes established in a new in geographic location, and causes impacts, it is considered an invasive species.
In coastal aquatic habitats, commercial shipping's ballast vessel water and biofouling are two of the most significant invasive species vectors. Prevention of species introductions through vector management is considered the most effective way to address invasive species because, once established, attempts to eradicate invasive are often unsuccessful and costly.
As vessel move throughout the world, they can discharge ballast water and introduce any nonindigenous species that were in the ballast water source. It is estimated that ballast water moves more than 7,000 species around the world on a daily basis (Carlton 1999) with a single vessel ballast water discharge having the potential to release over 21.2 million individual planktonic animals (Minton et al. 2005). Vessels may load, discharge, or redistribute ballast water during cargo loading and unloading, as they encounter rough seas, or as they transit through shallow coastal waterways.
Vessels can carry biofouling as they move throughout the world. As vessels move, biofouling organisms can spawn (reproduce) or drop off a vessel resulting in the introduction of NIS. Vessel biofouling is considered one of the most significant vectors for marine nonindigenous species introductions in several regions, including Australia, North America, Hawaii, the North Sea, and California (Ruiz et al. 2000a, 2011, Eldredge and Carlton 2002, Gollasch 2002).
Vessel biofouling is an organism or a community of organisms that are attached to or associated with a vessel's hard surfaces that are wet or underwater. Vessel biofouling includes attached organisms such as barnacles, algae, and mussels, and also includes organisms that associate with the attached organisms such as worms, crabs, and amphipods (small shrimp-like animals).