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Identification and risk assesment of potential invasive species in Greenland waters

Invasive species are of global conservation concern, and they may have strong, negative impacts on ecosystems.

So far, Arctic waters have experienced a relatively low number of biological introductions. Their geographical remoteness, cold waters and presence of sea ice pose challenging conditions for both non-native organisms and the vessels that transport them, which presumably is the reason for the low rates of introduction and establishment. However, the currently observed increase in water temperatures resulting in reductions in sea ice forced by climate changes may increase shipping as well as the risk for introduction and establishment of non-native invasive species in artic waters. Based on a literature review and risk assessments, this report identifies species that may potentially become invasive in Greenland Arctic waters, and some of these may have potential high impacts on ecosystems and fisheries. The report suggests that a warming of Arctic waters and a reduction of sea ice may increase the risk for invasion and establishment of non-native species in Greenland waters. As part of this project, Aarhus University has, in coordination with the Ministry of Environment and Food in Denmark and the Ministry of Nature and Environment in Greenland, contributed and provided input as needed to the implementation of the Arctic Invasive Alien Species Strategy and Action Plan 2017 (ARIAS), elaborated by the Arctic Council via the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF) and Protection of The Arctic Marine Environment (PAME) working groups. This report is a national follow-up on actions defined in ARIAS to improve the knowledge base in support of informed decision making. The report presents an assessment of species that pose a risk of becoming invasive in Greenland marine waters. The risk assessment includes information from governmental publications, national research reports, other scientific literature and risk assessments for other Arctic waters. The observed warming of Arctic waters is included in the assessment as a contributory factor towards increasing the risk for potential establishment of species introduced by shipping or transplantation to Greenland waters. The risk assessments include species that, based on the literature, are identified as potential threats to Greenland waters. The identified species represent different biology and reproductive strategies as well as different present distributions. As such, the identified species have different pathways and abilities to establish. Hence, it is to some extent possible to extrapolate between closely related species with comparable biology, for instance crabs such as red and brown king crabs. The list of potential invasive species is constantly evolving as new species distributions are observed and recorded.
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