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Naked in trays: How the trade in live marine baitworms could decrease species invasions
Wieland, R; Fowler, AE; Miller, AW
The live marine baitworm trade harvests, packages, and ships polychaete worms and packing algae (wormweed) from Maine, USA to consumers globally, inadvertently transferring numerous invertebrates that naturally occur in the algal habitat. Here, we use a focal taxa, the globally invasive European green crab Carcinus maenas, to examine costs associated with the successful introductions via this vector and suggest an alternative packaging, already in use in Europe. We show that restricting the use of wormweed at the source could solve the problem of transferring hitchhikers without a change in product cost. However, to the extent that baitworms in wormweed are what US consumers are accustomed to receiving, alternative packing might restrict demand for baitworms, lower producer prices, and reduce quantities traded. Avoiding such economic costs and receiving the benefits of reduced likelihood of unwanted invasion at low or no cost to producers should be of interest to policymakers and practitioners tasked with protecting ecosystems.
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