Pandora’s box: aquatic biosecurity challenges associated with the freshwater aquarium trade and northern Australian ecosystems

Most of us are familiar with pests and weeds causing problems in freshwater ecosystems. In northern Australia, more notable troublemakers include pigs, tilapia and salvinia. However, a recent report commissioned by the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment through the Environmental Biosecurity Project Fund, examines the issue of the many low-profile animals such as small fish, shrimps and snails as well as plants and microbiota that also pose potential to risk aquatic ecosystems in Northern Australia. The report explores challenges and opportunities associated with the global aquarium trade and northern Australian freshwater ecosystems, considering the range of mechanisms by which aquatic ecosystems are being invaded or could become established from a banquet of alien species.

The report contains broad thinking and recommendations that considers agriculture, urban development and remote areas at national and regional scales and is not merely of relevance to those operating within the aquarium trade itself. As a consequence, a broad theme of the report is supportive of translational ecology principles. Translational ecology is a solution focused practice based on regional communities working together with scientists to coexist within ecosystems. The report is based on a relatively wide authorship group of individuals that are active in Northern Australian settings.

For further Information contact Brendan Ebner (E) (P) 0457 925 768

Ebner, B.C., Millington, M., Holmes, B.J., Wilson, D., Sydes, T., Bickel, T.O., Power, T., Hammer, M., Lach, L., Schaffer, J., Lymbery, A. and Morgan, D.L. (2020). Scoping the biosecurity risks and appropriate management relating to the freshwater ornamental aquarium trade across northern Australia. Centre for Tropical Water and Aquatic Ecosystem Research (TropWATER) Publication 20/17, James Cook University, Cairns, (97 pp).

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