Of the 452 multicellular non-indigenous species (NIS) recorded off the Israeli Mediterranean coast, nearly 90% are considered to have been introduced through the Suez Canal (Erythraean NIS). The Israeli shelf serves as an important way station and breeding ground for Erythraean NIS, with 260 and 91 species already recorded in the greater Levant Sea and Central Mediterranean, respectively. The positive relationship between time since first record and spread indicates that Erythraean NIS populations may not be at equilibrium and are likely to spread further. Thus, the greater NIS numbers recorded in the past half century augur a sizable invasion debt. A review of the policy of the State of Israel concerning marine NIS, as reflected in recent official documents and regulations, reveals how these enhance their establishment, proliferation and spread in Israeli waters and in waters under the jurisdiction of other Mediterranean States. The continued role of the enlarged Suez Canal as corridor for invasion, and the increasing temperature of Mediterranean seawater, portend unceasing propagule pressure and likely rising establishment success of species not yet introduced. Recognition that factors driving the introduction and establishment of marine NIS are increasing, and the large-sized accrued invasion debt, impel us to urge the Contracting Parties to Barcelona Convention to undertake prevention and control measures to curb marine introductions into the Mediterranean Sea.
- Human health
- Invasive non-indigenous species
- Marine-protected area
- Suez canal