Non-Indigenous Species

MBL Policy No. J.1.9
Marine Resources
Marine Biological Laboratory

MBL Policy on Non-Indigenous Species

Initiated by: Manager of the Marine Resources Department
Approved by: MBL Director/CEO
Date: July 25, 2013
Revision: 1.0
Distribution: MBL Community

1.0 Policy Statement

It is the policy of the MBL to actively control and prevent the intentional or accidental introduction of non-indigenous species into the local environment.

2.0 Definitions

2.1 The term “non-indigenous species,” as used in this document, is synonymous with, or includes, the terms “introduced,” “alien,” “exotic” and “non-native” species.  The terms are used to refer to a species living outside its native distributional range, having arrived there by human activity, either deliberate or accidental.  The abbreviation, “NIS” may be used to refer to non-indigenous species.

2.1.1 MBL also distinguishes and treats non-local species of native species as non-indigenous based on an assumption that populations may possess distinct traits or genetic diversity and may also possess associated non-native pathogens or other commensal or parasitic organisms.  The term “non-indigenous population,” or “NIP” may be used for this concept.

2.2 Marine Resource Center staff, to whom queries and notices regarding non-indigenous species may be directed, include:

2.2.1 The Marine Resources Department Manager

2.2.2 The MBL Veterinarian

2.2.3  The Senior Animal Care Technician

3.0 Coordination

3.1 The Marine Resources Department coordinates all aspects of aquatic non-indigenous species.  All users of such species:

3.1.1 must inform the MRC Manager, in writing, of their intention to transport, house, or process NIS anywhere on the MBL campus.

3.1.2 must submit assurances that containment measures will present the unintentional release of whole are partial specimens of non-indigenous species.

3.1.3 May be requested to develop and submit a Non-indigenous Aquatic Organism Risk Analysis Protocol or a Species Specific Containment Protocol (both to be written) for review by the Non-indigenous Species Risk and Management Committee (to be constituted).

3.2 Tank space access on the MBL campus, outside of investigator laboratory space, requires the completion of a MBL Tank Space Application.  This form requires that any NIS or NIP intended for use in these tanks must be named and included in this application.

3.3 Approval is necessary before permission to work on NIS will be granted. The intentional release of exotics is not permitted except under rare circumstances and then only after proper scientific and permitting review.

4.0 Procurement

4.1 Newly acquired animals can introduce known or unknown exotic diseases into established colonies.  Warm-blooded animals may only be ordered from approved sources of Virus Antibody Free (VAF) or  Specific Pathogen Free (SPF) animals.  Delivery of animals from an outside institution must be preceded by a health certificate or health assurance statement, as appropriate. Investigators who wish to purchase aquatic animals from outside vendors must deal with reliable commercial providers. Additional advice should be sought from the Purchasing Department or the MRC Shipping Department.

5.0 Transportation

5.1 The MRC Director or the designated person(s) must be notified in writing and approval must be granted in writing from the MRC Director or designated person(s), prior to the transport of any non-vertebrate aquatic organism or plant to any MBL facility by individual investigators, students or course directors.  If the animals are vertebrates, an Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee protocol application that includes a certified health certificate must be submitted and approved before they can be brought to the MBL.  All transport media (to include water and organic packing material) and containers will be disposed of in such a way to prevent the introduction of non-indigenous (exotic) species or pathogens into the local environment.  Disposal protocols may include chemical treatment (i.e., hyperchlorate, or strong acids, bases), or heat (autoclaving or incineration).

6.0 Housing and Husbandry

6.1 All non-indigenous species must be housed and maintained in the Marine Resource Center 2nd floor Mariculture Room.  Specific areas of this facility are designated for NIS.  The Mariculture Room provides a contained environment for NIS that is elevated one story above ground level.  This ensures that any flooding event, such as during a hurricane, does not affect the holding areas for NIS and risks an accidental introduction.   Spills and aerosols origination in NIS-allocated tanks may also be better contained in this facility.

6.2 Access to, and use of, NIS housed in the designated NIS area of the MRC may proceed in other areas of the laboratory.  Specimens may be transported to the investigator or course laboratory for procedures, for example.  All transport media and containers should be subsequently treated to prevent the introduction of NIS into the local environment.

6.3 Non-indigenous populations of native species are not required to be housed in the area of the 2nd floor Mariculture Room designated for non-indigenous species.  NIP may be housed in the Valois tank room.

6.4 Any effluent originating in NIS or NIP tanks will be treated for pathogens, gametes and any living cells through treatment prior to discharge.  Treatment includes the mixing of effluent with ozone, according to standardized measures for this purpose or, when the ozone system is not operational, with chlorine.

7.0 Disposal

7.1 Any dead NIS or NIP specimens should not be disposed of in the bucket system made available throughout the MBL campus and designated for local and native species only.

7.2 Dead NIS or NIP specimens should be disposed of in the following manner:

7.2.1 The specimen(s) should be placed in a plastic bag along with a paper document that identifies the species and the contact person responsible for it.

7.2.2 The bag should be sealed and stored in a freezer designated for this purpose.

7.2.3 Specimens will be removed from this freezer for incineration

8.0 Response to Accidental Introductions

In the event that a non-indigenous species or member(s) of a non-indigenous population of a native species is accidentally released in the local environment, immediate reporting is the key to an effective response.  Responses include containment, eradication, control and mitigation.

8.1 For the persons reporting the release.

8.1.1 Immediately contact a designated MBL NIS contact.  This includes:

8.1.1.1 The Marine Resource Department Manager

8.1.1.2 The MBL Veterinarian

8.1.1.3 The MBL Safety Officer

8.1.1.4 The designated watchperson for after-hours contact.

8.1.2 Have the following information available to provide:

8.1.2.1 The name of the species released

8.1.2.2 The date and time the release occurred

8.1.2.3 The number of individuals

8.1.2.4 The life stage of the individuals released

8.1.2.5 The exact mechanisms of their accidental release including the specific location on the MBL campus

8.1.3 Indicate whether a specific non-indigenous containment protocol was submitted in association with the species.

8.2 Contact the MBL Facilities Manager

8.3 Contact the appropriate authority

8.3.1 The MBL NIS contact will, in the case of an accidental release of a non-indigenous species, contact the Massachusetts Department of Coastal Zone Management (617) 626-1200)

8.3.2 Supply all details to the CZM representative

8.4 Assess whether any containment measures may be implemented.  Time may be of the essence and, in consultation with the state representative, the MBL Director and the MBL Safety Officer, establish an initial action plan until an authoritative decision can be made.