Assessing the current and future risk of ballast-sourced species invasions in Canada’s eastern Arctic under a climate change scenario. [graduate project].
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The use of ballast water is an important and globally accepted method for maintaining vessel stability, as well as a major pathway for nonindigenous species (NIS) introduction. Canada has responded to this threat in the form of regulation, but existing policy may need to be adjusted to more effectively address environmental and socioeconomic changes. One area of particular interest is the eastern Canadian Arctic, where climate change in combination with growing development opportunities has resulted in an increase in marine vessel traffic volume. It is expected that this situation may lead firstly to an increasing probability of NIS introduction. Secondly, the likelihood of NIS establishment may also grow, as warming water temperatures may increase the environmental similarity between the Arctic and source ports. Due to the ecological fragility of the region, the unique relationship between the Inuit peoples and the environment, and the limited existing knowledge of the Arctic, species invasions in the eastern Canadian Arctic may have severely negative impacts. A policy analysis and risk assessment was conducted to identify ways in which Canada’s approach to ballast water management may be improved to better address this threat. Further, a projected risk assessment of the years 2055 and 2105 was conducted to predict how continued climate change may affect the risk level of ballast-mediated species invasions. It was found that though the current and predicted future risk levels are relatively low, focusing management efforts on limiting NIS introduction through improved ballast water management methods may significantly reduce the risk.