, Volume 42, Issue 4, pp 667-676
Date: 14 Aug 2008

Macroalgal Introductions by Hull Fouling on Recreational Vessels: Seaweeds and Sailors

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Abstract

Macroalgal invasions in coastal areas have been a growing concern during the past decade. The present study aimed to assess the role of hull fouling on recreational yachts as a vector for macroalgal introductions. Questionnaire and hull surveys were carried out in marinas in France and Spain. The questionnaires revealed that the majority of yacht owners are aware of seaweed introductions, usually undertake short range journeys, dry dock their boat at least once a year, and use antifouling paints. The hull survey showed that many in-service yachts were completely free of macroalgae. When present, fouling assemblages consisted mainly of one to two macroalgal species. The most commonly found species was the tolerant green seaweed Ulva flexuosa. Most of the other species found are also cosmopolitan and opportunistic. A few nonnative and potentially invasive Ceramiales (Rhodophyta) were found occasionally on in-service yachts. On the basis of the information gathered during interviews of yacht owners in the surveyed area, these occurrences are likely to be uncommon. However they can pose a significant risk of primary or secondary introductions of alien macroalgal species, especially in the light of the increase in yachting activities. With large numbers of recreational yachts and relatively rare occurrences of nonnative species on hulls, comprehensive screening programs do not seem justified or practical. The risks of transferring nonnative species may, however, be minimized by encouraging the behaviors that prevent fouling on hulls and by taking action against neglected boats before they can act as vectors.