Pacific Islands Marine Bioinvasions Alert Network
PacMAN is a three-year project focusing on invasive non-indigenous species (NIS) in the Pacific Island region. According to IPBES global assessment, one million species are on the verge of extinction and the introduction of NIS to new environments is listed as one of the five-key drivers impacting biodiversity. The Small Island Developing States (SIDS, often ‘large ocean states’) are especially vulnerable under the current expansion of maritime activities. Ship’s ballast water and biofouling, as well as the increasing trend of new marine infrastructures following the development of the blue economy, have been recognised as a major cause for the acceleration of the spreading of invasive species.
The PacMAN project uses the latest technologies in genomics and metabarcoding to detect marine invasive species. The scientific knowledge, tools and services will directly support the development and implementation of national strategic action plans for the control and management of ship’s biofouling. PacMAN will increase the technical and scientific capacity in Pacific islands, for the early warning and detection of marine invasive species using international standards and best practices and applying novel technologies. It aims to provide information to implement national and international policies with the purpose to reduce and prevent the introduction of new invasive species into the marine environment.
The project develops the national Bioinvasive monitoring plan for Fiji. In 2022, most of the protocol for sampling, sample preparation and DNA extraction has been completed and standardised. Protocol for metabarcoding and rapid detection of invasive species has been refined to increase the capacity for monitoring.
The project has close collaboration with the Ocean Biodiversity Information System (OBIS). This project is also a follow-up to the call from the IODE Committee (at the 25th session in Tokyo, 2019), inviting the Member States and donor agencies to support OBIS (and its community network) in the co-development of a data and analytics platform for policy-relevant applications. The PacMAN project also aims to create specific training packages in collaboration with the OceanTeacher Global Academy and to raise local awareness following the call by the IODE Committee.
Despite the delay due to COVID-19 health regulations, the project was continued virtually with the full participation of stakeholders. The project was prioritised by the ministries when the pandemic situation calmed down. The early warning and detection system of marine invasive species for the Pacific Islands is in progress with the prototype methods in place in the monitoring plan: from the deployment of customized biofouling plates to the adoption of molecular methods from exhaustive research and stakeholder consultations.
As part of its capacity development activities, the PacMAN project organized a hybrid scientific course that provided training in marine biosecurity and eDNA through various molecular biology techniques such as DNA extraction, PCR, qPCR, and bioinformatics. The course had an online introduction held on the OTGA platform, followed by a one-week on-site phase at the USP IAS campus in Suva, Fiji. The course was attended by 21 participants from 7 different institutions in Fiji, and it was the first-ever practical course on environmental DNA held in the country. The PacMAN scientific training course was featured on UNESCO news, IOC news and USP news, and the course materials are available online.
Follow PacMAN project updates on pacman.obis.org.
Media: PacMAN Facebook page