Marine Invasive Species Ireland

Marine Invasive Species Ireland

The goal of this project is to set up novel tools for the detection and monitoring of marine Invasive Alien Species (IAS) in Irish coastal waters. This includes the development of environmental DNA protocols for rapid detection, establishment of a surveillance eDNA database and mapping of marine invasive species.

This project is led by GMIT and is a collaboration with the Marine Institute (SERV-19-MEFS-004), the University of Southampton (UK) and the University of Oviedo (Spain). The project represents a part of the Blue Growth & Marine Planning Scheme, established under the Union Priority 6 (Integrated Maritime Policy) of Ireland’s EMFF Operational Programme.

The aim of the project is to develop surveillance methods to facilitate the mapping of Invasive Alien Species (IAS) distribution in Irish marine habitats.  As part of this project, we have developed methods to detect IAS in Irish nearshore waters and benthic habitats, including environmental DNA (eDNA) metabarcoding analysis. These techniques have the potential to become a key tool in early detection and spread of invasive taxa.

Project outputs

  • A review of marine IAS in Ireland that are established or could invade Irish marine habitats through vulnerable invasion pathways and other mechanisms (e.g. shipping, aquaculture, climate change, etc).
  • A publicly available database and associated maps of marine IAS detected in Irish marine habitats by eDNA
  • A detection and surveillance toolkit for the monitoring of marine IAS in Irish waters

Funding source

Blue Growth & Marine Planning Scheme, established under the Union Priority 6 (Integrated Maritime Policy) of Ireland’s European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) Operational Programme.

Project time frame


Links to papers and other resources

Fernandez S., Miller D.L., Holman L.E., Gittenberger A., Ardura A., Rius M., and Mirimin L. (2021) Environmental DNA sampling protocols for the surveillance of marine non-indigenous species in Irish coastal waters. Marine Pollution Bulletin 172: 112893

Project Contact:

Project Team

MFRC Leader, Lecturer and Researcher in Marine Ecology and Fisheries
Postdoctoral researcher
Lecturer in Aquatic Ecology
Research Scientist

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