DEPARTMENT OF LAND AND NATURAL RESOURCES
DAVID Y. IGE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Feb. 23, 2015
DIVISION OF AQUATIC RESOURCES DEDICATED TO INVASIVE SPECIES CONTROL
Prevention, Control and Management of Ocean Invasives
Honolulu – The numbers of introduced species to Hawai`i`s aquatic resources has been steadily rising for more than a century. This is the reason the DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR) has a number of ongoing programs to minimize the threats posed by aquatic invasive species. According to Brian Neilson, DAR Aquatic Invasive Species Coordinator, “Our job is to manage nuisance species that threaten our precious aquatic resources, and prevent further introductions and damage.”
Ocean transportation allows vessels to utilize ports across the world and has been one of the primary sources of introduced species to Hawai’i. Defined as biofouling, organisms can attach to the outside of vessels and hold the potential to spread when traveling to new harbors. Ballast water held in large compartments inside these vessels is used to stabilize weight changes from cargo offloading and is drawn directly from the departing or arrival harbors. This is thought to be another process of introducing marine organisms to new locations. “We know that historically up to 78% of introductions occurred due to vessel biofouling, yet in the absence of a management strategy the state remains seriously exposed. We have a unique opportunity to be leaders on this issue and it is our kuleana to take action,” said Sonia Gorgula, DAT Ballast Water and Hull Fouling Coordinator.
Hawaii has already been invaded by more than 346 marine and estuarine species. Recent unpublished estimates place this figure at greater than 420. Gorgula added, “Invasions will continue to occur unless we take action. Our greatest chance is through proactive, preventative management strategies.”
Once an invasion happens the odds are against control as there are few examples worldwide of successful eradication of marine invasions. As Gorgula explained, “We need to implement policies that curb arrival and spread. We need to target vectors or pathways responsible for introductions like vessel biofouling. While introduced organisms hitch rides on vessels coming into Hawai’i, established invasive species hosted on neighbor islands or bay areas can also be introduced to new areas via private or commercial vessels transported to different parts of an island or through the island chain.”
Exotic seaweeds introduced for aquaculture have been some of the most damaging nuisance species to Hawai’i. These seaweeds over grow coral reefs, smother coral and eventually kill it. DAR and partners at The Nature Conservancy of Hawai`i and University of Hawai`i have an ongoing project to clear invasive algae from Kān`eohe Bay. The seaweed is removed by divers using an underwater vacuum system called the “Super Sucker”. Once the bulk of the seaweed has been removed, native collector sea urchins (Tripneustes gratilla) or Hāwa`e, are outplanted to the reef to graze on the remaining algae to keep it from growing back. The urchins are raised at DAR’s Anuenue Fisheries Research Center. So far more than 270,000 urchins have been outplanted to Kān`eohe Bay reefs and over 13 acres of reef has been cleared.
You can help prevent the threat of aquatic invasive species by reporting any unknown organisms you see in our streams, lakes, estuaries, and ocean. Also when boating, fishing, and diving, make sure you clean your gear thoroughly to avoid transporting any foreign organisms between water bodies.
To watch a video on the Kān`eohe Bay program: