Cleaning by beaching: introducing a new alternative for hull biofouling management in Argentina.
Recreational vessels favor the secondary spread of exotic marine species hosted on hull biofouling communities through coastal trips. Hull biofouling is also a problem for vessel owners because it reduces the efficiency and maneuverability of the vessel. This study documents a pioneer case of alternative hull biofouling management in a context where local regulations prohibit in-water cleaning operations and where there are no shore-based facilities. We designed and put into practice a method to manually clean a 35 meter long catamaran, by beaching it in a macrotidal beach of Patagonia, Argentina. During the cleaning, all hull biofouling was removed and collected to prevent organisms from falling on the beach. A total of 12.5 m3 of biofouling was deposited in landfill following regulations for fishing discard material. In addition, qualitative and quantitative fouling samples were obtained from different hull locations of the vessel, including niche areas. A total of 53 distinct taxa were identified, including 18 exotic species for Argentina, 7 of which had not been previously reported for the study area. Cleaning by beaching can be used as a convenient biosecurity method to remove hull biofouling from small and medium size vessels when other methods or facilities on the coast are not available. Our results also provide further evidence for the potential risk of recreational vessels as vectors for the secondary spread of marine exotic species.