Europe and Central Asia

BirdLife Europe & Central Asia - Press release 4 December 2017

High time to include the American Mink on the Invasive Alien Species (IAS) list

On 5 December 2017, EU Member States will meet in the ‘IAS Committee’ for initial discussions on whether to include American Mink, one of the world’s most dangerous invasive alien species, among other species, on the EU’s “List of Invasive Alien Species of Union Concern”. Academics to NGOs, including BirdLife Europe, call on the IAS committee to include the American Mink on the IAS list – since it’s the invasive mammal species with the highest impact on native fauna in Europe, negatively affecting at least 47 native species.

Alien species are animals and plants that do not naturally occur in Europe and could never naturally make their way to Europe. They have been introduced here, either deliberately or accidentally, by humans. Most alien species are harmless. However, a significant minority cause great damage to our economy and environment. These are known as invasive alien species (IAS). Hundreds of invasive alien species are already in the EU. They cost the EU’s economy €12.5 billion annually through impacts on public health and a variety of economic sectors from hydro-electricity to agriculture. Invasive alien species also have devastating impacts on native flora and fauna. Not only do IAS compete with native species for food, they also compete for living space, spread disease and, in many cases, eat our native species. Across the EU, IAS are the third greatest driver of extinction. Unfortunately, climate change will only increase the negative impact of these invaders.

Once they reach Europe, IAS easily cross borders. Therefore, the only way to tackle the IAS threat is through coordinated pan-EU action. This is why the EU’s Invasive Alien Species Regulation is so widely respected, as it tackles the problem at a continental rather than a national scale. At the core of the Regulation is the “List of Invasive Alien Species of Union concern”. This is a list of the most dangerous IAS. Once a species is included on the list, it is banned from the EU in all but the most exceptional circumstances.

The evidence for the negative impacts of American Mink and the need for EU-wide action are overwhelming and that is why the American Mink needs to immediately be included in the IAS list. Some EU Member States are concerned that the inclusion of American Mink on the IAS List may threaten the mink fur-farming industry within their own countries. However under Article 9 of the IAS Regulation, there is a clear option for mink fur farming to continue throughout the EU. Albeit, under a biosecurity regime that is both stricter than now and unified across the EU. Such an improved biosecurity regime would ensure mink farms have appropriate and effective measures in place to minimise the risk of escapes, to swiftly detect escapes when they occur, and to manage any mink populations that exist in the wild.

Danny Heptinstall, Policy Officer, BirdLife Europe & Central Asia stated: “It’s high time to include the American Mink on the Invasive Alien Species (IAS) list – it is one of the world’s most dangerous invasive alien species. This would be a “win-win” scenario for nature, EU member states and the mink fur-farming industry.

Under Article 9 of the IAS Regulation, there is clear option for mink fur farming to still continue throughout the EU. However, the new regulations will mean that the threat to biodiversity from American mink fur-farming will be much reduced.

Also member states don’t need to be concerned that the IAS Regulation’s requirement will place a significant financial burden on them. The Regulation is not obliging Member States to immediately take a series of costly actions to eliminate the species from their territory. Rather, the Regulation obliges Member States to take a strategic view on how to most efficiently manage American mink so that the threat they pose to nature is reduced. It recognizes that eradication is a long-term aspiration and efforts should be more targeted in the short- and medium-term.” ENDS

For further information, please contact:
Danny Heptinstall, Policy Officer, BirdLife Europe & Central Asia
Danny.Heptinstall@rspb.org.uk
Mobile: +44 (0) 7711 435 791

Notes:
[1] List of Invasive Alien Species of Union concern http://ec.europa.eu/environment/nature/invasivealien/list/index_en.htm 

[2] NEOBIOTA RESOLUTION ON THE EU INVASIVE ALIEN SPECIES REGULATION: The Time for Action is NOW! http://www.neobiota2016.org/resolution-neobiota-2016.pdf

[3] EU Regulation 1143/2014 on Invasive Alien Species
http://ec.europa.eu/environment/nature/invasivealien/index_en.htm
 


 

Stichting BirdLife Europe gratefully acknowledges financial support from the European Commission. All content and opinions expressed on these pages are solely those of Stichting BirdLife Europe.