The Isle of Man is taking part in Invasive Species Week 2018 which marks the first time all eight members of the British-Irish Council (BIC) have come together to tackle the growing economic and ecological threat posed by non-native species.
Minister for Environment, Food and Agriculture, Geoffrey Boot MHK, joined representatives from Guernsey, Ireland, Jersey, Northern Ireland, Scotland, the UK, and Wales at the BIC’s fifteenth summit of environment ministers, held in Dublin on Thursday and Friday.
Minister Boot said:
'Non-native species do not respect borders. As a relatively small group of islands it is vital that all members work together to tackle the threat posed to our biosecurity and so I was pleased to take part in launching this joint initiative.'
Non-native species can have a devastating effect on the environment, quickly taking-over and out-competing native flora and fauna. As well as the ecological impact, invasive species threaten the agriculture and fishing industries.
The public are being encouraged to do their bit by learning more about the risks non-native species pose to the Isle of Man and its waters.
A number of agencies on the Island – including the Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture, the Department of Infrastructure, the Manx Wildlife Trust, the ManxSPCA, and the Society for the Preservation of the Manx Countryside and Environment – are working together to raise awareness and educate the community on steps they can take to both reduce and tackle the threat.
Events are taking place across BIC member jurisdictions and are themed around specific threats:
- 26 March – Invasive plants: There are over 90 non-native plants in Britain, with the majority introduced as garden or pond plants, such as the infamous Japanese knotweed. The public are encouraged to Be Plant Wise and help prevent their spread.
- 27 March – Hitchhikers: Non-native aquatic organisms can easily spread in both salt and fresh water. The public are encouraged to Check, Clean, Dry to help prevent their spread.
- 28 March – Exotic pets: There has been a trend in people buying non-traditional ‘exotic’ pets – such as terrapins and peafowl – which can cause problems if they escape or are released. The public are encouraged to follow the Pet Code of Practice to ensure they are responsible keepers.
- 29 March – Get involved: The final day will focus on spreading word via social media about what local communities have done to mark the week with posts starting “I #getINNSvolved by…” which plays on the initialism of the Non-Native Species Secretariat.
From an Isle of Man perspective the threat to the Island’s waters is a particular concern and the week will see a free information evening titled Stop the aquatic hitchhikers!. The Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture intends to publish a marine biosecurity plan later this year.