The market features of imported non-indigenous polychaetes in Portugal and consequent ecological concerns
Keywords:Polychaeta, Perinereis aibuhitensis, Glycera dibranchiata, bait, non-indigenous species, Portugal
The importance of the market for polychaetes dramatically increased after the discovery of their potential as food in aquaculture. In Portugal, the gathering of polychaetes solely from natural populations is not sufficient to meet market demand, both as bait for sea anglers and as a food item in aquaculture. The requests for worms to polychaete dealers by Portuguese and Spanish seafarms have increased during recent years. Due to the lack of intensive culture of these worms in Portugal and the proximity of southern Spanish farms, a large component of imported polychaetes that arrive in Portugal at Lisbon Airport go directly to Spain by road. In 2002 and 2003 a total of 12,728,379 and 16,866,839 polychaetes respectively were imported to Europe via Lisbon Airport from China and the USA. In 2003 the imports from China and the USA realised 716,180 and 291,845 US dollars respectively. Two species were reported to have been imported in these years, namely the Korean blue ragworm Perinereis aibuhitensis and the American bloodworm Glycera dibranchiata. Imports of non-indigenous species, which are traded and sold alive, may increase the risk of accidental introduction into the wild. This is of special concern as Perinereis aibuhitensis has been successfully reared in captivity within the range of environmental conditions existing in the Ria Formosa coastal lagoon. Other risks associated with introduced species are the transport of foreign pathogens and other associated non-native organisms, which may act as carriers of disease.
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