Image of invasive Chinese mitten crab courtesy of Christian Fischer - Creative Commons

PML Applications Ltd provides evidence to Government invasive species inquiry

29 October 2019

PML Applications Ltd provided evidence to the recently published House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee’s report on invasive species.

The Invasive Species inquiry was launched in April 2019 to examine the Government’s progress since the 2014 report: Invasive Non Native Species. PML Applications contributed 1 of the 125 written responses the Committee received to help establish the current state of the nation’s action against invasive non-native species (INNS).

The report defines INNS as “any non-native animal or plant that has the ability to spread, causing damage to the environment, our economy, human health and the way we live”. INNS are considered to be one of the top five threats to biodiversity worldwide and on average, cost the UK economy £1.8 billion per year, mainly affecting agriculture, forestry, horticulture, utilities, construction and transport infrastructure. The number of INNS in the UK and its overseas territories is among the highest in the world and the Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra) estimates between 36 and 48 new invasive species will become established in Great Britain in the next 20 years, due to activities such as international trade and travel.
Through Tim Fileman, Dr Tom Vance and Anna Yunnie, PML Applications submitted a substantial response on marine INNS, an often overlooked area, their impact upon the environment, economy and human health and possible management options, such as the management approaches employed by Australia and New Zealand.
Anna Yunnie, an Applied Research Scientist of PML Applications, commented: “This is great step forward and very timely; momentum is building internationally and the UK is moving in the right direction to apply the brakes on global biodiversity loss and the introduction of diseases and pathogens by implementing stringent biosecurity measures. Unfortunately, for many reasons, the marine realm is often under represented  compared to the attention terrestrial invaders receive, but with the interests of fisheries, aquaculture, mariculture, coastal and marine tourism and leisure, together with increased public awareness, our oceans are finding more supporters and financial aid.”

The key recommendations from the report were: 

  • Train a ‘biosecurity citizens’ army’ of 1.3 million volunteers to identify and respond to outbreaks of invasive species.

  • Establish a dedicated border force by 2020 to improve biosecurity at UK borders.

  • Ban imports of problem species before they present a risk to the UK.

  • Set up a rapid response emergency fund to enable agencies to tackle a threat before it becomes out of control.

  • Increase funding to Non-Native Species Secretariat to £3 million a year.

  • Include invasive pathogens in next Invasive Non-Native Species Strategy.

  • Should the Government engage in new bilateral trade deals, invasive species must be factored into risk assessments and enhanced biosecurity measures introduced at points of entry, where risks are identified.

  • Government must urgently accede to the Ballast Water Management Convention at the earliest possible opportunity.

  • DEFRA's monthly biosecurity meetings must result in problem species being identified and banned from import before they present a risk to the UK.

  • Government should work to support the UK horticulture industry to ensure that it relies less on imports.

  • Government should produce guidance for the public sector in its procurement of trees and mandate a biosecurity assurance scheme, given Government's intention to plant more trees such as the northern forest. 

The full report can be found at: