Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

A review of the introduction of non-native species for aquaculture in Chile: recent history, environmental impacts and regulations.

Abstract

Chile, one of the main aquaculture producing countries in the world, recognizes the possible threats posed by non-native species, but also recognizes the significant economic and societal benefits associated with aquaculture of exotic species. Chile currently has more than 20 exotic species authorized for aquaculture, including several salmonids, which support one of the most important export sectors of Chile's economy. The list includes freshwater catfish and crayfish, two species of sturgeons, marine flatfishes, two species of abalone, and the cosmopolitan Japanese oyster. Introduced species for aquaculture purposes not only pose risks for the target species themselves but also for disease introductions and other associated harmful organisms that may be transported as 'stowaways', such as an exotic polychaete that has been introduced to Chile. The history of introducing species for aquaculture in Chile started a century ago with freshwater fishes, and introductions have been increasing over the past 20 yr. The literature regarding impacts of introduced species on native ecosystems is scarce and there are no reports of severe impacts on marine environments. In freshwater ecosystems, native fishes have been displaced by exotics, spreading in the mid and south regions. The current regulation concerning introduced species for aquaculture enforces quarantine requirements, requires sanitary certificates and requires bio-ecological studies be conducted before the commercial stage of production is developed. Currently, the regulation is being amended, as recommended by international organizations, to incorporate a risk assessment methodology for environmental evaluation and the establishment of an external scientific committee to advise on new introductions.