Sunday, July 27, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Flushed fish cause invasive species threat

The highly invasive lionfish is easily available through aquarium and internet sales and represents a potential threat for California waters. Though not known to infest California waters, its ability to tolerate cool temperatures mean it could establish as far north as San Francisco Bay and beyond if released, according to a UC Davis Bodega Marine Laboratory report. Christian Mehlfuehrer/Courtesy photo

By
From page A3 | January 15, 2013 |

Well-intentioned children and aquarium hobbyists seeking to “free” their pet fish down a toilet bowl or into a local waterway may inadvertently be contributing to the threat of invasive species downstream, according to a new report from UC Davis.

In a report released last week to the California Ocean Protection Council, lead author Susan Williams, an evolution and ecology professor with the UCD Bodega Marine Laboratory, found that more than 11 million non-native ornamental marine individuals — such as tropical fish, seaweed and snails bound for aquariums — representing at least 102 species are being imported annually through California’s ports of San Francisco and Los Angeles, primarily from Indonesia and the Philippines.

And 13 of those species have been introduced to California marine waters — presumably after being released from aquariums.

While that number is low, the report cautions that 69 percent of the introduced species established themselves successfully in California, signaling a potential threat to marine ecosystems. Some non-native, invasive species can rapidly spread and outcompete native species for food and habitat.

“Although relatively few aquarium species have been introduced compared to species in other pathways, such as ballast water, they are highly successful because they’re grown to be hardy and robust,” Williams said. “They have to be tough to survive in the trade.”

The aquarium trade represents a $1 billion a year global industry and a popular home hobby, second only to photography, the report said. It has also introduced some of the world’s worst invasive species, such as the seaweed Caulerpa, the “killer algae” that infected two lagoons in Southern California in 2000 and cost California more than $6 million to eradicate.

Another invader is the highly predatory lionfish, which regularly enters the state’s ports through the aquarium trade — 20 lionfish were imported into San Francisco International Airport on a single day, the report said. Introduced to Florida in 1999, it spread rapidly throughout the Caribbean Sea and along the East Coast by 2010. Lionfish have not been reported in California waters, but the fish is able to withstand cooler temperatures.

If released, a lionfish could establish itself as far north as San Francisco Bay and, even farther, as oceans continue to warm, the report said.

While the report highlighted lionfish and Caulerpa as species of special concern, it identified at least 34 species deemed able to tolerate California’s current marine climate.

The report is one of six that the Bodega Marine Laboratory coordinated for the state, each exploring a different vector, or pathway, through which invasive species can enter California ocean waters. The other pathways include aquaculture, live seafood, live bait, fishing vessels and recreation vessels.

Williams said it makes sense to focus on invasive threats from the aquarium trade because they can be managed primarily through public education, with minimal regulatory action or expensive measures.

“Unlike some other vectors, we can easily prevent unwanted introductions from the aquarium trade,” she said. “Aquarium hobbyists can follow some simple practices — like ‘Don’t dump your aquarium’ — to avoid releasing aquarium species into natural water where they can become an expensive and harmful pest.”

Williams said that people who no longer want an aquarium species can contact the vendor from which the species came or the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to learn how to dispose of or return it responsibly.

For the risk assessment, researchers analyzed state and federal agency databases of non-native species associated with ornamental aquariums, as well as U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service inspection records for live animals imported into California ports, and state permit records for restricted species. The researchers also observed a routine, one-day inspection of live organisms arriving in air cargo at San Francisco International Airport for a snapshot view of the inspection process.

The scientists discovered several data limitations: Regulatory agencies do not track the ultimate destination of the aquarium species once they clear customs, so it is unknown how many species stay in California once they arrive.

Both Caulerpa and lionfish are also readily available for sale over the Internet, which presents a data gap for researchers and a regulatory challenge for agencies.

Further, regulatory authority for the trade is fragmented across state and federal agencies, and there is no central source of information on the species, regulations, permits or other relevant records.

“From the hobbyist or industry side, it is really hard to figure out the rules and regulations for holding live organisms in the state — for importing, possessing and trading them,” said Williams. “So one of our conclusions is that a more centralized information and permitting system would benefit the regulators, industry and hobbyists, and enable scientists to collect more information and better assess the risk.”

The study was funded by the California Ocean Protection Council and California Ocean Science Trust.

— UC Davis News Service

Comments

comments

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

    Zombies by rail: It’s not just a show, it’s a trip

    By Evan Arnold-Gordon | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Fatal Covell Boulevard crash recalled in court

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1

    Humphrey Fellows will host Global Forum

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Community gardens stretch food dollars, study finds

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Wildfire spurs evacuation of 700 homes

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    State can’t say if it’s meeting drought goal

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Rairdan joins race for Davis school board

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

    Ukraine launches offensive to retake Donetsk

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Israel extends Gaza truce through Sunday

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    New ordinance aims to prevent nut thefts from orchards

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A4

     
    Biggest book sale to date opens Friday at Davis library

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Luna family matriarch turns 100

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4 | Gallery

     
     
    Discussion of oil by rail EIR planned Sunday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

    Mace Innovation Center is focus of meeting

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

     
    Freeway crash injures two drivers

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A5

    Museum wants your old Davis High School yearbooks

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

     
    Affordable housing forum planned in Davis

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

     
    Protesters gather at Primate Center

    By Tanya Perez | From Page: A8

     
    State awards $40,000 for historic property survey

    By Lily Holmes | From Page: A8

    Free blood pressure screenings offered

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

     
    Vanguard hosts economic development director

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

    Get a sneak peek at documentary trailer

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

     
    Davis Chamber Choir sings short summer program

    By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A9

    Tasting event benefits Yolo Land Trust

    By Lily Holmes | From Page: A9

     
    At the Pond: From Davis, it’s easy to get back to nature

    By Jean Jackman | From Page: A10 | Gallery

    Tickets on sale now for DHS Hall of Fame dinner

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

     
    .

    Forum

    Feels like a million miles away

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: A7

     
    Here’s what you need for a perfect wedding

    By Marion Franck | From Page: A7

     
    Check doctors’ vitals before they check yours

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

    Husband’s let himself go

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: A14

     
    Questions on water rights

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A16, 1 Comment

    Campus turns on the tap

    By Our View | From Page: A16

     
    So, what’s in a week’s worth of waste?

    By Michelle Millet | From Page: A16

    Pat Oliphant cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A16

     
    Golf tourney was a big success

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A16

    We can do more to help

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A17

     
    New playground is wonderful

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A17

    Just Us in Davis: Little Rock Nine hero to celebrate with Davis youths

    By Jann L. Murray-Garcia | From Page: A17 | Gallery

     
    .

    Sports

    Sutherland presents 1st clinic; golf column on its way

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    New Korematsu teacher is an American Ninja Warrior

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Furyk opens 3-shot lead in Canadian Open

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

     
    Gray wins 6th straight, A’s 4 HRs beat Texas 5-1

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

    Kershaw throws 2-hitter as Dodgers beat Giants 5-0

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

     
    Nibali set to cruise to Tour victory

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Area sports briefs: River Cats take Game 1 of doubleheader

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B4

     
    .

    Features

    .

    Arts

    .

    Business

    Companies will collaborate on crop insect control

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A13

     
    Developer’s commitments: affordable and green

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A13 | Gallery

    Lagerstrom represents Davis at Mary Kay seminar

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A15

     
    UC Davis Health System earns ‘Most Wired’ award

    By Charles Casey | From Page: A15

    Bartholomew hires new associate

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A15

     
    Yolo County real estate sales

    By Zoe Juanitas | From Page: A15

    Go back to school with Great Clips

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A15

     
    .

    Obituaries

    Carlton Hope Meister

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    Jonathan Eric Hollander

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    .

    Comics

    Comics: Sunday, July 27, 2014

    By Creator | From Page: A6