THE MARINE MAMMAL COMMISSION COMPENDIUM
MULTILATERAL / ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES
First Update; pages 288-293
ICES Code of Practice on the Introductions and Transfers of Marine Organisms, Copenhagen, 1994
Done at Copenhagen September 1994
Primary source citation: Copy of text provided by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea
ICES CODE OF PRACTICE ON THE INTRODUCTIONS AND TRANSFERS OF MARINE ORGANISMS 1994
Global interest in marine aquaculture (mariculture) began to increase dramatically in the 1950s and 1960s. A natural complement to this interest was the search for fish, shellfish (molluscan and crustacean), and plant species whose biology was well known and which already had achieved or could achieve success in mass cultivation. Once identified, these species were thus potential candidates for movement to new locations in the world for the purpose of establishing new fisheries and new mariculture resources. Such animals and plants that are not native to these new locations are referred to as non-indigenous, introduced, exotic, or alien species. Organisms transported and released within their present range are referred to as transferred species.
While great successes have been achieved by these activities, leading to the creation of new and important fishery and mariculture resources, three challenges have surfaced over the past several decades relative to the global translocation of species to new regions.
The first challenge is posed by the inadvertent coincident movement of harmful organisms associated with the target (host) species. The mass transfer of large numbers of animals and plants without inspection, quarantine, or other management procedures has inevitably led to the simultaneous introduction of disease agents, causing harm to the development and growth of the new fishery resources and to native fisheries.
The second challenge lies in the ecological and environmental impacts of introduced and transferred species, especially those that may escape the confines of cultivation and become established as wild stocks. These new populations can have an impact on native species.
The third and most recent challenge to be addressed stems from the genetic impact of introduced and transferred species, relative to the mixing of farmed and wild stocks as well as to the release of genetically modified organisms.
The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea, through its Working Group on Introductions and Transfers of Marine Organisms and its cooperation with other ICES Working Groups and with the European Inland Fisheries Advisory Commission (EIFAC) of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), has addressed these three levels of concern since 1973. On 10 October 1973, the Council adopted the first version of what was to become an internationally recognized "Code of Practice" on the movement and translocation of non-native species for fisheries enhancement and mariculture purposes. The Code was set forth "to reduce the risks of adverse effects arising from introduction by non-indigenous marine species". Subsequent modifications proposed by the ICES Working Group on the Pathology and Diseases of Marine Organisms in 1978 and by the then newly reconvened ICES Working Group on the Introduction of Non- Indigenous Marine Organisms in 1979, led to the publication of a "Revised Code" adopted by ICES in October 1979. The "1979 Code" became the standard for international policy and the version of the Code most widely used, cited, and translated for the next 10 years. Minor revisions and additions over the decade resulted in the adoption in October 1990 of a "1990 Revised Code."
The "1994 Code" presented here was adopted by ICES in September 1994 (ICES, 1994). It incorporates further changes and adds critical new sections relative to genetic issues. The latter include consideration, under Section IV (c), of the need to assess the genetic impacts that releases--such as of farmed salmon or other fish--could have on the natural genetic diversity of native stocks and thus on the environment in general; and a new Section V on recommended procedures for the consideration of the release of genetically modified organisms.
A brief outline of the ICES Code of Practice 1994
The ICES Code of Practice sets forth recommended procedures and practices to diminish the risks of detrimental effects from the intentional introduction and transfer of marine (including brackish water) organisms. The Code is aimed at a broad audience since it applies to both public (commercial and governmental) and private (including scientific) interests. In short, any persons engaged in activities that could lead to the intentional or accidental release of exotic species should be aware of the procedures covered by the Code of Practice.
The Code is divided into five sections of recommendations relating to: (1) the steps to take prior to introducing a new species, (2) the steps to take after deciding to proceed with an introduction, (3) the prevention of unauthorized introductions by Member Countries, (4) policies for ongoing introductions or transfers which have been an established part of commercial practice, and (5) the steps to take prior to releasing genetically modified organisms. A section on "Definitions" is included with the Code.
The content of Sections I, II, and IV has been referred to above and in ICES reports (ICES, 1984, 1988, and 1994). Section III, while brief, acknowledges the need to understand the vectors, other than intentional releases, that can bring exotic species to one's shores. In recent years, for example, the release of exotic organisms via a ship's ballast water has become a pressing issue, with profound implications for fisheries resources, mariculture, and other activities. Section V is the newer section noted earlier.
The Code is presented in a manner that permits broad and flexible application to a wide range of circumstances and requirements in many different countries, while at the same time adhering to a set of basic scientific principles and guidelines.
ICES Member Countries contemplating new introductions are requested to present to the Council a detailed prospectus on the rationale and plans for any new introduction; the contents of the prospectus are detailed in Section I of the Code. The Council may then request its Working Group on Introductions and Transfers of Marine Organisms to consider the prospectus and comment on it. The Working Group, in turn, may request more information before commenting on a proposal.
If an introduction or transfer proceeds, ICES requests Member Countries to keep the Council informed about it, both through providing details of the brood stock established and the fate of the progeny, and through submitting progress reports after a species is released into the wild. The specifics of this stage are detailed in Section II of the Code.
ICES has published two extended guides to the Code, one in 1984 as Cooperative Research Report (CRR) No. 130, entitled "Guidelines for Implementing the ICES Code of Practice Concerning Introductions and Transfers of Marine Species", and one in 1988 as Cooperative Research Report No. 159, entitled "Codes of Practice and Manual of Procedures for Consideration of Introductions and Transfers of Marine and Freshwater Organisms". These reports are available in many libraries and from the ICES Secretariat. The Working Group on Introductions and Transfers of Marine Organisms is in the process (1995) of revising these documents, and inquiry regarding the date when the new ICES Cooperative Research Report will be available should be addressed to ICES. ICES views the Code of Practice as a guide to recommendations and procedures. As with all Codes, the current one has evolved with experience and with changing technological developments. The latest (1994) version of the Code reflects the past 20 years of experience with its use and application and with the evolution of new fisheries and genetic technologies. While initially designed for the ICES Member Countries concerned with the North Atlantic and adjacent seas, the Code soon found use as far away as the Pacific islands.
We are pleased to present the ICES Code of Practice in this fashion for wide consideration, and we welcome advice and comments from both Member Countries and our colleagues throughout the world. Recommendations and suggestions should be directed to the General Secretary of ICES in Copenhagen, Denmark.
James T. Carlton Chairman, ICES Working Group on Introductions and Transfers of Marine Organisms
Katherine Richardson Chairman, ICES Advisory Committee on the Marine Environment
ICES Code of Practice on the Introductions and Transfers of Marine Organisms 1994
The introduction and transfer of marine organisms, including genetically modified organisms, carry the risk of introducing not only pests and disease agents but also many other species. Both intentional and unintentional introductions may have undesirable ecological and genetic effects in the receiving ecosystem, as well as potential economic impacts. This Code of Practice provides recommendations for dealing with new intentional introductions, and also recommends procedures for species which are part of existing commercial practice, in order to reduce the risks of adverse effects that could arise from such movements.I Recommended procedure for all species prior to reaching a decision regarding new introductions. (A recommended procedure for introduced or transferred species which are part of current commercial practice is given in Section IV; a recommended procedure for the consideration of the release of genetically modified organisms is given in Section V.)
(a) Member Countries contemplating any new introduction should be requested to present to the Council at an early stage a detailed prospectus on the proposed new introduction(s) for evaluation and comment.
(b) The prospectus should include the purpose and objectives of the introduction, the stage(s) in the life cycle proposed for introduction, the area of origin and the target area(s) of release, and a review of the biology and ecology of the species as these pertain to the introduction (such as the physical, chemical, and biological requirements for reproduction and growth, and natural and human-mediated dispersal mechanisms).
(c) The prospectus should also include a detailed analysis of the potential impacts on the aquatic ecosystem of the proposed introduction. This analysis should include a thorough review of:
(i) the ecological, genetic, and disease impacts and relationships of the proposed introduction in its natural range and environment;
(ii) the potential ecological, genetic, and disease impacts and relationships of the proposed introduction in the proposed release site and environment. These aspects should include but not necessarily be limited to:
potential habitat breadth,
prey (including the potential for altered diets and feeding strategies),
hybridization potential and changes in any other genetic attributes, and the role played by disease agents and associated organisms and epibiota.
Potential predation upon, competition with, disturbance of, and genetic impacts upon, native and previously introduced species should receive the utmost attention. The potential for the proposed introduction and associated disease agents and other organisms to spread beyond the release site and interact with species in other regions should be addressed. The effects of any previous intentional or accidental introductions of the same or similar species in other regions should be carefully evaluated.
(d) The prospectus should conclude with an overall assessment of the issues, problems, and benefits associated with the proposed introduction. Quantitative risk assessments, as far as reasonably practicable, could be included.
(e) The Council should then consider the possible outcome of the proposed introduction, and offer advice on the acceptability of the choice.
If the decision is taken to proceed with the introduction, the following action is recommended:
(a) A brood stock should be established in a quarantine situation approved by the country of receipt, in sufficient time to allow adequate evaluation of the stock's health status.
The first generation progeny of the introduced species can be transplanted to the natural environment if no disease agents or parasites become evident in the first generation progeny, but not the original import. In the case of fish, brood stock should be developed from stocks imported as eggs or juveniles, to allow sufficient time for observation in quarantine.
(b) The first generation progeny should be placed on a limited scale into open waters to assess ecological interactions with native species.
(c) All effluents from hatcheries or establishments used for quarantine purposes in recipient countries should be sterilized in an approved manner (which should include the killing of all living organisms present in the effluents).
(d) A continuing study should be made of the introduced species in its new environment, and progress reports submitted to the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea.
(a) Periodic inspection (including microscopic examination) of material prior to exportation to confirm freedom from introducible pests and disease agents. If inspection reveals any undesirable development, importation must be immediately discontinued. Findings and remedial actions should be reported to the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea.
(b) Quarantining, inspection, and control, whenever possible and where appropriate.
(c) Consider and/or monitor the genetic impact that introductions or transfers have on indigenous species, in order to reduce or prevent detrimental changes to genetic diversity.
It is appreciated that countries will have different requirements toward the selection of the place of inspection and control of the consignment, either in the country of origin or in the country of receipt.
V Recommended procedure for the consideration of the release of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
(a) Recognizing that little information exists on the genetic, ecological, and other effects of the release of genetically modified organisms into the natural environment (where such releases may result in the mixing of altered and wild populations of the same species, and in changes to the environment), the Council urges Member Countries to establish strong legal measures to regulate such releases, including the mandatory licensing of physical or juridical persons engaged in genetically modifying, or in importing, using, or releasing any genetically modified organism.
(b) Member Countries contemplating any release of genetically modified organisms into open marine and fresh water environments are requested at an early stage to notify the Council before such releases are made. This notification should include a risk assessment of the effects of this release on the environment and on natural populations.
(c) It is recommended that, whenever feasible, initial releases of GMOs be reproductively sterile in order to minimize impacts on the genetic structure of natural populations.
(d) Research should be undertaken to evaluate the ecological effects of the release of GMOs.
Specimens of a species, either as eggs, juveniles, or adults, from which a first or subsequent generation may be produced for possible introduction to the environment.
Country of origin
The country where the species is native.
Current commercial practice
Established and ongoing cultivation, rearing, or placement of an introduced or transferred species in the environment for economic or recreational purposes, which has been ongoing for a number of years.
For the purpose of the Code, "disease agent" is understood to mean all organisms, including parasites, that cause disease. (A list of prescribed disease agents, parasites, and other harmful agents is made for each introduced or transferred species in order that adequate methods for inspection are available. The discovery of other agents, etc., during such inspection should always be recorded and reported.)
All of the genetic variation in an individual, population, or species (ICES, 1988).
Genetically modified organism (GMO) An organism in which the genetic material has been altered anthropogenically.
Introduced species ( = non-indigenous species, = exotic species)
Any species intentionally or accidentally transported and released by humans into an environment outside its present range.
Any aquatic species that does not spend its entire life cycle in fresh water.
Any species held in a confined or enclosed system that is designed to prevent any possibility of the release of the species, or any of its disease agents or any other associated organisms into the environment.
Transferred species (= transplanted species)
Any species intentionally or accidentally transported and released within its present range.
(b) Introduced species are understood to include exotic species, while transferred species include exotic individuals or populations of a species.
(c) It is understood for the purpose of the Code that introduced and transferred species may have the same potential to carry and transmit disease or any other associated organisms into a new locality where the disease or associated organism does not at present occur.
ICES. 1984. Guidelines for Implementing the ICES Code of Practice Concerning Introductions and Transfers of Marine Species. Cooperative Research Report No. 130. 20 pp.
ICES. 1988. Codes of Practice and Manual of Procedures for Consideration of Introductions and Transfers of Marine and Freshwater Organisms. Cooperative Research Report No. 159. 44 pp.
ICES. 1994. Report of the ICES Advisory Committee on the Marine Environment, 1994, Annex 3. ICES Cooperative Research Report No. 204. 122 pp.