Biological Invasions

, Volume 21, Issue 7, pp 2447–2470 | Cite as

Assessment of recreational boating as a vector for marine non-indigenous species on the Atlantic coast of Canada

  • M. Pelletier-Rousseau
  • R. Bernier
  • C. Clarke Murray
  • D. Drolet
  • A. Lacoursière-Roussel
  • A. Locke
  • J. L. Martin
  • C. H. McKenzie
  • C. W. McKindsey
  • T. W. Therriault
  • N. SimardEmail author
Original Paper


We developed a new predictive approach to evaluate the relative invasion hazard posed by recreational boats as vectors for non-indigenous species (NIS) in marine ecoregions on the Atlantic coast of Canada. It combines data from behavioral boater questionnaires, surveys of boat macrofouling, and an extensive NIS monitoring program in marinas. The relative invasion hazard posed by boats in nine marine ecoregions was estimated by combining information on NIS infestation levels in source ecoregions, the probability that boats will be fouled, boat movements and environmental similarity between source and receiving marinas, and estimates of annual recreational traffic within and between ecoregions. A total of 52.1% of surveyed boats had macrofouling on hull or niche areas, suggesting a high potential for NIS transport. High-risk boats were those that had spent extended periods in water, traveled extensively from invaded locations, and received little maintenance. Further, the high degree of connectivity between and within ecoregions, and high survival probabilities of NIS, highlight the threat of NIS introduction and spread via recreational boating in Atlantic Canadian waters. Of all Atlantic Canadian ecoregions, the Scotian Shelf ecoregion was classified as having the “Highest” Final Hazard score. However, boats with Intermediate to Highest scores travel to most ecoregions, underlining the importance of this vector to the introduction and spread of NIS in Atlantic Canadian coast. A simulated out-of-water cleaning after 3 months reduced the hazard in ecoregions with greater scores.


Biological invasions Biofouling Non indigenous species Recreational boat Hazard assessment 



The authors wish to thank the laboratory and field assistants who helped in different aspects of this study: Isabelle Bérubé, Geneviève Perrin, Rafael Estrada, Sophie Boudreau, Benedikte Vercaemer, Murielle LeGresley, Paul McCurdy, Jocelyn Lowther, Terri Wells, Kyle Matheson, Robert O’Donnell, Andrew Perry, Mark O’Flaherty, George Bishop, Haley Lambert, Vanessa Reid, Erica Watson, André Nadeau, John Davidson, Colin Forsythe, Chantal Coomber, Janelle Mclaughlin, Emily White, Siobhan Curry, and Rod Asher. We are also grateful to Jessica Paulmert and Paul Couture for database development; to Vicky Yaroshewski and Pierre Clement who provided background data from the AIS Monitoring Database, Andrea Weise who prepared numerous maps and reviewed the document, and Émilie Simard and Marie-France Lavoie for their precious advice. Finally, we are very grateful to marina managers for allowing access to their facilities and boat owners for their participation. We thank the anonymous reviewers whose contribution helped to produce a better manuscript. This work was funded by the Fisheries and Oceans Canada Aquatic Invasive Species program. Additional funding was provided through the Canadian Aquatic Invasive Species Network (study by Lacoursière-Roussel) and the Newfoundland Provincial Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture. Lacoursière-Roussel was further supported by scholarships from McGill University, Québec-Océan and Fonds de recherche sur la nature et les technologies (FQRNT).


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Copyright information

© © Crown 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Pelletier-Rousseau
    • 1
  • R. Bernier
    • 2
  • C. Clarke Murray
    • 3
  • D. Drolet
    • 1
  • A. Lacoursière-Roussel
    • 4
  • A. Locke
    • 3
  • J. L. Martin
    • 4
  • C. H. McKenzie
    • 5
  • C. W. McKindsey
    • 1
  • T. W. Therriault
    • 6
  • N. Simard
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Maurice Lamontagne InstituteFisheries and Oceans CanadaMont-JoliCanada
  2. 2.Gulf Fisheries CentreFisheries and Oceans CanadaMonctonCanada
  3. 3.Institute of Ocean SciencesFisheries and Oceans CanadaSidneyCanada
  4. 4.St. Andrews Biological StationFisheries and Oceans CanadaSt. AndrewsCanada
  5. 5.Northwest Atlantic Fisheries CentreFisheries and Oceans CanadaSt. John’sCanada
  6. 6.Pacific Biological StationFisheries and Oceans CanadaNanaimoCanada

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