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IPPC Observatory study on the Uses and Risks of Aquatic Plants

While aquatic plants have proven to be beneficial to ecosystems and to the economy, some species can become pests when introduced to new environments. Some may be infested by pests, provide a pathway for pests, or be pests to other plants. Aquatic plants are considered protected plants under the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) Framework as mentioned in several International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures (ISPMs), even though the IPPC does not distinguish from terrestrial or aquatic plants.

Following a scientific session on aquatic plants In 2010, members of the Commission on Phytosanitary Measures (CPM) agreed in 2011 that aquatic plants were covered under the scope of the IPPC. It was also agreed that the CPM Bureau and the IPPC Strategic Planning Group further consider that aquatic plants be protected while counting invasive species as potential pests under the IPPC Framework.

In 2012, the IPPC Observatory conducted a scoping study to determine the uses and risks of aquatic plants. The study showed the many uses of aquatic plants including as food, fiber and biofuel, as well as providing ecosystem functions and services. Indirectly, aquatic plants provide economic benefits, the global value of which had been US$ 4.8 billion since 1990, peaking in 2007 at around US$ 7 billion. The study concluded that the economic importance of sustainable natural populations of aquatic plants alone warrants their protection and enhancement.

On the other hand, the study showed that widely traded ornamentals pose significant risks. The traits that allow ornamental plants to do well in cultivation are often the same characteristics that enable the plant to develop as a pest. Some of the common species recognized worldwide as pests include water hyacinth, water lettuce, giant Salvinia and hydrilla.

In 2014, the study would contribute to CPM adoption during its 9th Session. The CPM Recommendations on the IPPC Coverage of Aquatic Plants stated that contracting parties include an assessment of pest risks to aquatic plants in their pest risk analysis process. The IPPC Recommendations also encouraged to ensure that government agencies and relevant stakeholders are aware of the pest risks during import and movement of aquatic plants, as well as prevent the spread of regulated aquatic plants as pests in the ornamental trade, among others.

Doc # Agenda # Title Files Publications date
Aquatic plants: Their uses and risks En
CPM Recommendations: IPPC Coverage of Aquatic Plants En

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