Publications: Peer-reviewed journal articles (by staff)

Setting priorities for the management of marine pests using a risk-based decision support framework

1 January, 2006

Forrest BM, Taylor MD, Sinner J 2006. Setting priorities for the management of marine pests using a risk-based decision support framework. Biological Invasions in New Zealand 186: 389-405.


The aim of this framework is to provide an approach to setting priorities that caters for marine biosecurity threats (from existing or potential pests) to different types of coastal values or stakeholder sectors (e.g., aquaculture, conservation) at different scales of interest (e.g., national vs. internal border control). It is a framework that promotes forward planning to avoid poorly informed, ad hoc decision-making.

For full application, this approach would require a significant amount of data about particular pest species and the vulnerability of high-value areas to those species. In many circumstances, this information will not be available or the analyst might consider that it is not possible to identify the species that pose the greatest risk (e.g., given uncertainty regarding how an organism will behave in a new environment). However, the framework can be simplified to accommodate these situations, e.g., by using representative species or taxa, rather than a complete suite of target species. Furthermore, at least in certain situations, some of the parameters or even dimensions of the framework can be condensed if there is insufficient information, or deleted if the management question does not require their consideration.

The data for implementation of this framework can be accumulated and refined over time, and there is clearly scope to automate the assessment process. Rudimentary first applications covering a range of scales and values, if properly documented, will provide a useful platform for further applications and, given that many policy decisions will require consideration of similar parameters, the tool will become progressively more sophisticated. In further development of the framework, we emphasise the importance of information sharing among the various scientific disciplines and stakeholder groups involved in biosecurity, both in New Zealand and overseas, since many of the issues and needs raised in relation to the marine environment are common to all.