Aquatic organisms may be transferred to new locations as biofouling and although some non-natives are completely harmless, others can be harmful and invasive in locations where they do not naturally occur. Such invasive species have the ability to cause damage to the environment. Non-natives can be transported in a number of ways including via recreational boating activity by hitching a ride on boat hulls, propellers or in ballast and bilge water. Where invasive species compete with native plants and wildlife they can cause major changes in both marine and inland waters around the world. Once established, non-native species become extremely difficult and expensive to eradicate.
There are a number of actions that recreational boaters can take to minimise the risk of introducing or spreading non-native species which are detailed in the following guidance.
The EBA Environmental Secretary produced the European Code of Conduct on Recreational Boating and Invasive Alien Species on behalf of the Bern Convention.
The International Maritime Organisation has produced guidance intended for owners and/or operators of recreational craft less than 24 metres in length.