Educational Capacity Strengthening for Risk Managment of Non-native Aquatic Species in Western Balkans - RiskMan

WP1 Review and Analysing of Existing European Practices

WP1 Review and Analysing of Existing European Practices

WP1 - Summary


Along with climate change, the introduction of non-native species (NNS) is widely recognized as one of the main threats to aquatic biodiversity and human well‐being. The first large piece of European legislation on NNS addressing invasive alien species (IAS) came into force in 2014 by the EU Regulation 1143/2014 on the “Prevention and management of the introduction and spread of invasive alien species”. Based on Regulation, Member States (MS) should take action on pathways of unintentional introduction, measures for the early detection and rapid eradication of these species, and to manage species that are already widely spread in their territory. However, it is still not known if this regulation affected further actions in non-EU Balkan countries although MSs are obliged to foster cooperation with third countries regarding the regulation on IAS (Article 22). NNS and biodiversity are generally of low priority in the political agendas of many countries, which particularly is true for the European countries outside the EU. Furthermore, non-EU bordering countries are not obliged to enforce EU laws concerning NNS, and this could leave open invasion corridors. Hence, the objectives and tasks addressing NN species in Western Balkans under WP1 were to analyse: (1) the non-native species policy regulation; (2) environmental definitions and management plans; (3) educational level and practice in education; and (4) socioeconomic perception. Also, risk management practices and roadmap plans are developed for implementing and managing risk for NN species in Western Balkans. Education development has also been analysed. 

EU Alien regulation (EU No. 1143/2014) related to the NNS is implemented in EU Programme countries (Italy, Greece and Croatia) and Montenegro as Partner country. Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina did not report specific Policy regulations on alien species. An additional problem with Bosnia and Herzegovina is its complex governmental structure and lack of a unique legislative at the national level. Albania is more oriented on marine biodiversity protection than inland waters. National lists of alien species are not very well developed in Western Balkans and need updates. Various definitions of alien species have been reported and usually are regulated by the Policy act in countries which already implemented NNS in legislation. Monitoring programmes specifically designed for alien species are established  in all EU Programme Countries (Italy, Greece, Croatia) in the context of the MSFD.  Obviously, lack of funding prevents countries from starting with such activity. Risk Management Tools like AS-ISK experiences were used only at an academic level, but  risk management of NN species has not been done in the field in any of the investigated countries. Most countries are addressing NNS through educational courses related to project activities which represent the main educational practice. Programme countries (Croatia, Turkey) and Partner countries (Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina) organized undergraduate and master/PhD lectures on ecological and/or socio-economic impacts of NNS and IAS. 

Education level corresponds with the implementation of NNS policy regulation and still is undeveloped. Citizens’ awareness and educational preparedness addressing NN species in Partner countries are identified as low and different visions of approach were identified. The target group for NNS educational programs in the region could be students, stakeholders such as SMEs in fisheries, agriculture, tourism industry (National park, fishermen's association, sports, and recreational associations, etc.) and stakeholders as policymakers (local self-government and central government authorities). Based at the identified current state in Western Balkan Partner countries following opportunities were identified:

  1. development of National Invasive Species Strategy and Action;
  2. development of consistent national legislative according to Strategy and Action plan;
  3. communication strategy inside and outside of territorial frameworks;
  4. better control over the introduction, release and establishment of new species
  5. establishment of border control and biosecurity;
  6. risk analysis;
  7. to develop a strategy on raising awareness;
  8. and to develop a strategy on education based on identified target groups. With joint effort and good communication these opportunities could be implemented in Western Balkan  to prevent further biodiversity losses.