By Kim Se-jeong, The Korea Times
An American ecology scholar advised the Korean government, Tuesday 7 July, to set up regulations to counter the trade of “invasive species” here and protect Korea’s biodiversity.
Speaking at the World Leaders’ Conservation Forum on Jeju Island, Prof. Daniel Simberloff from the University of Tennessee said piranhas recently found in a reservoir in Hoengseong, Gangwon Province, are a good example of environmental threats posed by invasive species.
Invasive species are those introduced to an environment where they are not native and have a negative impact on the host environment.
During the three-day forum, which ended Thursday 9 July, 43 experts from Korea and the rest of the world are holding various sessions to discuss the importance of nature conservation.
Local authorities blocked public access to the reservoir and drained the water in order to catch them.
It is not yet clear how the predatory fish, indigenous to the Amazon River in South America, actually ended up in Korea.
The professor said piranhas had also been found in Hawaii and Michigan and he suspected two possible causes. An aquarium which may have missed the fish in the customs and inspection process is a possibility, while an individual intending to disturb the domestic marine eco-system is another, he said.
Globally, invasive species are a growing problem, as they are expanding habitats because of climate change.
Invasive species are only one dimension of the many threats to biodiversity, however.
Patricia Zurita from BirdLife International and Tomoko Ichikawa from the East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership said many bird species are on the verge of extinction because of a loss of habitat, climate change and exploitation.
They stressed that a lot of funding and better public awareness are needed for the rehabilitation of these species.
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