Global marine biosecurity and ship lay-ups: intensifying effects of trade disruptions

Gregory M. Ruiz, Bella S. Galil, Ian C. Davidson, Sarah C. Donelan, A. Whitman Miller, Mark S. Minton, Jim R. Muirhead, Henn Ojaveer, Mario N. Tamburri, James T. Carlton*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Recent global trade disruptions, due to blockage of the Suez Canal and cascading effects of COVID-19, have altered the movement patterns of commercial ships and may increase worldwide invasions of marine non-indigenous species. Organisms settle on the hulls and underwater surfaces of vessels and can accumulate rapidly, especially when vessels remain stationary during lay-ups and delays. Once present, organisms can persist on vessels for long-periods (months to years), with the potential to release propagules and seed invasions as ships visit ports across the global transportation network. Shipborne propagules also may be released in increasing numbers during extended vessel residence times at port or anchor. Thus, the large scale of shipping disruptions, impacting thousands of vessels and geographic locations and still on-going for over two years, may elevate invasion rates in coastal ecosystems in the absence of policy and management efforts to prevent this outcome. Concerted international and national biosecurity actions, mobilizing existing frameworks and tools with due diligence, are urgently needed to address a critical gap and abate the associated invasion risks.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBiological Invasions
Pages (from-to)3441-3446
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Biofouling
  • Biosecurity
  • COVID-19
  • Trade disruptions
  • Shipping
  • Suez canal


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