, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp 3-11

Global Documentation of Fish Introductions: the Growing Crisis and Recommendations for Action

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Abstract

Fish provides 15% of the total animal protein in human diets. It is also the primary source of livelihood for 35 million people (30 M in Asia and 2.6 M in Africa). The increase in global population and demand for fish protein cannot be met by capture fisheries alone. Governments are turning towards aquaculture as the source of fish protein. However, it has also led to the introduction and establishment of non-native species in local ecosystems through their escapement from aquaculture facilities to the wild. In freshwater ecosystems with relatively high endemism, this has become a significant problem. Documenting the international movement of fish is one way of providing a general view of the magnitude of these movements and the existing and potential threat faced by ecosystems due to species invasiveness. Information, however, is limited and scattered in different journals and agency/project reports. Several agencies, both local and international, have databases that provide information on invasive species (terrestrial and aquatic, local, regional or international in scope). The critical challenge is for consolidation, common access through data sharing and development of risk assessment and management tools. This is proposed through the use of Internet technology, sharing of databases or having a gateway or portal to which all introduced and invasive fish species related databases link. The fusion of these information sources will allow access to updated and reliable information. The experience of the WorldFish Center in documenting these phenomena through developing the FishBase information system and global partnerships is presented with recommendations for harmonizing approaches.

An erratum to this article is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10530-006-1833-0.