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Tuesday, 24 July 2012

NEW PROJECT BEGINS AT NAFC MARINE CENTRE

The NAFC Marine Centre is starting a new project that is searching for marine species that may have been introduced to Shetland from elsewhere in the world. Introduced species (also known as non-native or alien species) can be harmful to the marine environment, not only having potential impacts on wildlife but also on Shetland’s important marine industries such as aquaculture and fisheries. 

Project Officer Jacqui Tweddle, who is part of the Marine Spatial Planning Team in the Department of Marine Science and Technology at the NAFC Marine Centre, is visiting marinas around Shetland this summer to see what species have made it to Shetland. So far she has visited Fair Isle, Bridge End, East Voe, Cullivoe and Lerwick Harbour.

One of introduced species Jacqui will be looking out for is called the ‘carpet sea squirt’ but is also known by the less attractive name ‘marine vomit’ (presumably for its colour and consistency). This species, which is originally from Japan, has been found in England and Ireland where it has been causing problems for the shellfish industry by smothering oyster beds. It can also smother farmed mussels. This species has also been found in marinas in Wales and Scotland. 

Species such as the carpet sea squirt have managed to hitch a lift around the globe on boat hulls and in ballast water. Unfortunately, man-made structures (such as marinas and aquaculture infrastructure) can sometimes offer ideal habitats for these species to grown on. As well as checking for introduced species, Jacqui will be developing information sheets for marinas, the aquaculture industry and other marine users so they can keep a look out for anything unusual living around the coast. 

The NAFC Marine Centre would be interested to hear of any unusual species that people might have seen and pictures can be sent to marine.plan@nafc.uhi.ac.uk or tel 01595 772000.

Further information:

For further information, please contact: Jacqui Tweddle, NAFC Marine Centre, tel 01595 772000, email Jacqueline.Tweddle@nafc.uhi.ac.uk or visit www.nafc.ac.uk

Or, Louise Rosie, Shaw Marketing and Design Ltd, tel 01595 692465, email louise.rosie@shaw-online.com or visit www.shaw-online.com