Toxic dinoflagellates: introduction of potentially harmful dinoflagellates due to ballast water in Eastern Canada

Jacqueline Modler \ Oceans First \ Issue 4, 2017, pgs 28-34. Download PDF


Ballast water frequently introduces potentially harmful, non-indigenous dinoflagellates into marine ecosystems, either through water or within ballast sediments. Foreign dinoflagellates contribute to the development of harmful algal blooms, and affect aquaculture and human health due to paralytic shellfish poison (PSP). Eastern Canadian marine ecosystems are becoming increasingly vulnerable due to rising water temperatures, enabling tropical dinoflagellates to survive in an environment that was previously too cold. Ships participating in a coastal ballast exchange have the highest probability of transporting harmful, non-indigenous dinoflagellates. This paper aims to prove that additional methods of control are needed to limit the number of harmful dinoflagellates transported by ballast water. Ballast water exchange, made law in 2006, is an insufficient method to control the introduction of foreign taxa, and when done in coastal waters, could instead increase the number of toxic dinoflagellates brought into marine ecosystems. The implementation of an external Canadian management body is proposed to regulate ballast water exchange and tighten ballast water requirements. Studies in Eastern Canada will be used to examine the magnitude of harmful, non-indigenous dinoflagellates introduced in Eastern Canada. As well, national and international studies will be brought together to examine potential effect of non-indigenous dinoflagellates.