Letters

Chile's salmon escape demands action

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Science  31 Aug 2018:
Vol. 361, Issue 6405, pp. 857-858
DOI: 10.1126/science.aau7973

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  • Marine Bioinvasion Research From Over 40 Countries Debated in Patagonia
    • Alejandro Bortolus, Investigador Independiente, Grupo de Ecología en Ambientes Costeros (GEAC), IPEEC-CONICET, Argentina.
    • Other Contributors:
      • Evangelina Schwindt, Investigadora Independiente, Grupo de Ecología en Ambientes Costeros (GEAC), IBIOMAR-CONICET, Argentina

    The International Conference on Marine Bioinvasions (ICMB) is a major non-profit forum for expert scientists and policymakers to push forward the discipline. The Xth edition is celebrated (October 16-18, 2018) for the first time in a Latin American country (Puerto Madryn, Chubut, Patagonia, Argentina), a region suffocated by a scientific crisis caused by a lack of budget and political support that have led, for instance, to the collapse of the Argentina Ministry of Science and threatens with first brain-drain in decades (1). Nevertheless, far from decaying, this Patagonia edition displays a formidable, geographic- and gender-balanced team of keynote speakers from five continents, the collaboration of researchers from over 40 countries and the dissertation of editors and funding editors from prestigious journals like Biological Invasions, Aquatic Invasions, Management of Biological Invasions, and PeerJ. The speakers will lead the debates by horizon-scanning carefully selected hot-topics like marine world legislation, biosecurity and risk assessment, society and aquaculture, global warming effect on polar seas, vectors and ballast water. In addition to lowering the registration fee, the Organizing Committees found Sponsors willing to support travel awards for Early Career Scientists from 6 countries worldwide but mostly South American. A great effort made specifically to favor young scientists devoted to marine bioinvasion biology and ecology in the region. However, above al...

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    Competing Interests: None declared.
  • Strengthening Chile’s policies on invasive species
    • Hernan Caceres-Escobar, PhD, The University of Queensland
    • Other Contributors:
      • Duan Biggs, Senior Research Fellow, Griffith University
      • Maria Jose Martinez-Harms, Post-doctoral researcher, Pontifical Catholic University of Chile
      • Fabian Jaksic, Professor, Center for Applied Ecology and Sustainability (CAPES), Pontifical Catholic University of Chile
      • Agustin Iriarte, Professor, Center for Applied Ecology and Sustainability (CAPES), Pontifical Catholic University of Chile
      • Cristobal Briceño, Profesor Asistente, Facultad de Ciencias Veterinarias y Pecuarias, Universidad de Chile
      • Hugh Possingham, Chief Scientist, The Nature Conservancy (TNC)
      • Salit Kark, Associate Professor, The University of Queensland

    Invasive species are a leading driver of species declines and extinctions worldwide (1). Chile, a global biodiversity hotspot (2), is no exception. Invasive species modify ecosystems (3), play a major role in disease transmission (4), and predation of globally vulnerable species (5). Conservative assessments have estimated that the annual economic loss from seven of the 128 invasive species in Chile is approximately US$87 million (6).

    Chile’s government decided to restrict, or even withdraw, measures to control free-roaming dogs and cats, such as culling (7, 8); and took ineffective measures targeting escaped salmon (9, 10). To not take a stronger stance against invasive species, undermines positive conservation efforts, such as expanding the protected area estate (11). Recently, there has been increasing tolerance of invasive species counter to scientific evidence (12, 13). In Chile, fewer people now believe invasive species are a threat to nature (14). This halts the development of evidence-based policies and has curtailed the implementation of actions to address their spread and impacts (13). Some animal rights activists are strong advocates of the inadequate current policies and delay the political discussion on invasive species (15, 16).

    The perception of the public and conservation objectives are now at odds. Effective policies on invasive species should incorporate existing scientific evidence (17). We propose that collaborative structured decision-ma...

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    Competing Interests: None declared.