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Directories & Databases

Directories & Databases

One of the problems that has been identified in relation to ballast water is the large number of countries, agencies, organizations, institutions, companies and individuals involved in the various aspects of the issue. There is a large range of initiatives and activities being undertaken around the world to address it. These include activities in a large number of disciplines; such as marine science, marine resource management, human health, engineering, ship design, ship building, shipping operations, research and development, economics, law and education, training and communications.

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It is difficult for various parties to remain abreast of all developments in all of these areas and to maintain effective communication and information sharing channels.

One of the main roles of web-sites such as this one is to help improve communication and information dissemination. Several other organizations have established web-sites and databases and directories on various aspects of ballast water and invasive marine species. Some of the main examples are described below along with links to them.

Global Directories & Databases

Regional Directories & Databases

National Directories & Databases

Global Directories & Databases

The IMO Ballast Water Treatment R&D Directory (

Scope and Focus: Global Ballast water treatment R&D.

One of the many functions of the GloBallast PCU is to establish and maintain an information resource centre and clearing house mechanism, in order to improve the global communication and dissemination of information relating to this issue, and thus facilitate increased coordination and cooperation between the many parties involved. This Ballast Water Treatment R&D Directory has been developed as part of this effort.

This directory lists research and development projects that are focussed specifically on the physical, mechanical or chemical treatment of ballast water to prevent/reduce the transfer of aquatic organisms. It does not list broader research projects relating to ballast water or marine bio-invasion issues in general.

The Aquatic Invasions Research Directory (AIRD)

Scope and Focus: Global. Research relating to all aspects of aquatic bio-invasions.

Over the past two decades, research in the field of aquatic (marine and freshwater) invasions has expanded rapidly, reflecting an increased awareness of the impacts of invading species on the economics and ecology of invaded environments. As an inevitable consequence of the publication process, the dissemination of information amongst the scientific and wider community has at times been unable to keep pace with advances in the field. This shortfall has prevented researchers and policy makers from benefiting from findings of contemporary research or experience gained outside their own networks; it may also lead to the proliferation of uncoordinated studies and unnecessary duplication of effort.
The Aquatic Invasions Research Directory (AIRD) was conceived as a means to address this shortfall. The Directory is an Internet-based, searchable database containing up to the minute information on people, research, technology, policy, and management issues relevant to aquatic invasions. The scope of the Directory falls into four broad areas:

  1. The ecology of aquatic invasions: vectors, impacts, risk assessment and response
  2. The ecology of ballast water
  3. Prevention and treatment technologies
  4. Policy and management
AIRD is being developed at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC) in Maryland, USA in collaboration with researchers in other parts of the world.

The Global Invasive Species Database(

Scope and Focus: Global. All aspects of bio-invasions.

This database is being developed by the IUCN Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) as a contribution to the Global Invasive Species Programme (GISP). It has very broad scope with a greater focus on terrestrial invasive species than aquatic invasive species, although it does have a specific aquatic component which when fully developed will prove especially useful for management purposes, including predictive modelling.

The FAO Database on Introductions of Aquatic Species (DIAS) (

Scope and Focus: Global. Originally only intentional introductions for fisheries purposes. Scope is being expanded.

The FAO database on introductions of aquatic species was initiated by R. Welcomme in the early 1980's. It considered primarily only freshwater species of fish and formed the basis for the 1988 FAO Fisheries Technical Paper no. 294. The database has been expanded to include additional taxa, such as molluscs and crustaceans, and marine species. In the mid 1990's a questionnaire was sent to national experts to gather additional information on introductions and transfers of aquatic species in their countries.

The database, which contains now about 3,150 records, can be queried through the Search Form. Users aware of other introductions of aquatic species not already included in the database or that have additional information on the records in the database are requested to fill in the Input Form. Periodically this information will be validated and added to the database.

The database includes records of species introduced or transferred from one country to another and does not consider movements of species inside the same country (see the Glossary for more explanations about these terms). Coverage of accidental introductions of organisms (e.g., through ship ballast waters) is not complete and records on this topic have been generally entered only when important impacts on fisheries or on the environment have been caused.

Regional Directories & Databases

The Baltic Sea Alien Species Database(

Scope and Focus: Baltic Sea. Known invasive marine species.

The Baltic Sea Alien Species Database is an interactive tool, which includes the following information retrieval options:

  • Database Search,
  • Baltic Sub-regions and Species Directory.

The information comprised in the Database comes from:

  1. members of the Baltic Marine Biologists Working Group on Non-indigenous Estuarine and Marine Organisms and other researchers involved in invasive biology studies;
  2. published papers, environmental reports, "grey literature" and internet sites;
  3. the Database Questionnaire.

The CIESM Atlas - New Exotic Species in the Mediterranean Sea (

Scope and Focus: Mediterranean Sea. Known invasive marine species.

The CIESM Atlas - New Exotic Species is the first attempt to provide a comprehensive, group by group, survey of recent marine 'immigrants' in the Mediterranean, which is undergoing drastic and rapid changes to its biota. Many of these new species are of Indo-Pacific origin having reached the Mediterranean Sea through the Suez Canal : these so called 'Lessepsian' migrants now contribute significantly to the biodiversity of the Eastern basin. With increasing attention paid to this phenomenon, invaders of other origin-notably from the tropical Atlantic realm- are now more frequently recognized as well, a result of a natural invasion through the Gibraltar straits or of introduction (accidental or intential) by man.

The Atlas is a guide for researchers, environmental planners and non-specialists who are interested in or likely to encounter marine species that are not native to the basin. Because of observations and records of these new and often rare species the Atlas will expand as our knowledge on the distribution and ecology increases. We believe the best way to inform you about the changing seascape is through a digital interactive format, which will enable us to quickly update information and allow instant feedback.

The Atlas will consist of about six volumes, each written by a group of specialists in their respective field. Individual species pages are designed to stand alone as information sheets with illustrations, diagonistic features, biological information, references and a distribution map for each exotic species. The CIESM task force experts will continuously review reliable evidence of new or confirmed records thus updating and expanding the Atlas. The first three printed volumes will be published in early 2002.

National Directories & Databases

Australia - National Introduced Marine Pests Information System (NIMPIS) (

Scope and Focus: Australian waters. Known invasive marine species.

NIMPIS is an information system for marine introductions in Australia. It was developed to provide managers, researchers, students and the general public with access to accurate and up to date information on the biology, ecology and distribution of introduced marine species, and potential control options for those designated as pests. Included within this system are (i) species that are known to be introduced to Australian waters and (ii) those species that are considered to be likely future introductions ('next pests').

The information provided by this web site is held in a structured form that is also used by the biological risk assessment module of the AQIS ballast water management decision support system ( As a result some of the descriptive text has been compiled from a number of fields and may be a little cryptic. Most however remains in the native form and is well documented.

The information found on this site may be cited for publication or used for public education material. Individual pages include a recommended citation at the bottom of the page. The recommended citation for the whole system is as follows:

Hewitt C.L., Martin R.B., Sliwa C., McEnnulty, F.R., Murphy, N.E., Jones T. & Cooper, S. 2002. Editors. National Introduced Marine Pest Information System. Web publication <>.

NIMPIS is a dynamic information system that will be constantly updated, therefore certain functions, links, species information and applications may be unavailable at this time.

UK - Directory of non-native marine species in British waters (

Scope and Focus: UK waters. Known invasive marine species.

The Directory of non-native marine species in British waters is an inventory-style directory organised according to Phyla. It provides information on known non-native marine species in Bristish waters according to the following categories; Division, Class, Order, Species name, Synonyms, Common name, Date of introduction and origin, Method of introduction, Reasons for success, Rate of spread and methods involved, Distribution, Factors likely to influence spread and distribution, Effects on the environment, Effects on commercial interests, Control methods used and effectiveness, Beneficial effects, Comments and References.

US - National Ballast Water Information Clearing House(

Scope and Focus: US waters. Ballast water management practices and patterns.

The US National Invasive Species Act of 1996 (NISA) directed the United States Coast Guard in conjunction with the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC) to develop a clearinghouse for the synthesis, analysis, and interpretation of national data concerning ballast water management and ballast-mediated invasions throughout the USA. As a result, the National Ballast Water Information Clearinghouse (hereafter Clearinghouse) was established in 1997 at SERC.

NISA calls for a variety of measures to reduce the risk of exotic species invasions associated with release of ballast water by ships. Among these, NISA requests that all ships arriving to U.S. ports from outside the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) follow voluntary guidelines for open-ocean exchange of ballast tanks that are to be discharged in U.S. waters. This management practice is intended to minimize the transfer of nonindigenous species.

A key element of this legislation is tracking the effectiveness of voluntary guidelines for ballast water management. This assessment includes measuring: (a) the level of compliance, (b) changes in the rate and patterns of ballast water delivery, and (c) reduction in the rate of ballast-mediated invasions. The Clearinghouse was created to provide synthesis and analysis of these measures on a national scale. More generally, the Clearinghouse will function as a central source of information on ballast water and ballast-mediated invasion, including:

  • Spatial and temporal patterns of ballast water delivery and management;
  • Patterns and rates of marine and estuarine invasions;
  • Directory of ongoing and past research on ballast water and ballast-mediated invasions;
  • General information on a broad range of topics relevant to this issue.

Together, these elements will provide a valuable resource, which is now lacking for ballast water management and ballast-mediated invasions. The Clearinghouse will produce reports on national patterns of ballast water management and invasion, as well as databases, that are available via the Internet. This approach is intended to provide access to a rich source of information for education, management, policy, and research.

US - National Marine and Estuarine Invasions Database (

Scope and Focus: US waters. Known invasive marine and estuarine species.

This database focuses on marine and estuarine alien species in U.S. waters, including organisms that occur in tidal waters of all salinities (i.e., freshwater to full marine salinities). The primary goal of this database is to describe the patterns and effects of alien species invasions in coastal communities on multiple spatial and temporal scales. Although the database is used to synthesize available information on a species-by-species basis, it has been explicitly designed as a research and management tool to test hypotheses about invasion patterns and processes. Specifically, for each species, detailed information is included about :

  • taxonomy (including synonomy and common names),
  • invasion history (e.g., mechanism and date of introduction, source region, history of spread, etc.),
  • population biology (including life-history characteristics and abundance),
  • community ecology (e.g., habitat utilization, environmental tolerances, ecological interactions),
  • economic impacts,
  • references for each topic area.

US scientists are querying this database to examine patterns and impacts of invasion by taxa, region, habitat, date of invasion, mechanism of introduction, source region, etc. The database is complete for Chesapeake Bay, and analyses of invasion patterns and effects in Chesapeake Bay are at various stages of completion. Concurrent with these analyses, SERC is expanding the scope of the database to include other coastal sites and regions throughout the U.S. to (1) characterize invasion patterns on a national scale and (2) measure spatial variation in the extent and consequences of invasions. The database (and resulting analyses) will continue to develop and expand over many years, as part of the US National Ballast Water Information Clearinghouse, and will provide a national information source on marine invasions through SERC's website.


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