The Arabian Gulf is a unique hypersaline semi-arid environment. About 53,000 ships visit the Gulf annually for oil transportation. The potential for introduction of alien species via ships' ballast water discharge is significant. Fish kills have been associated with massive blooms of the dinoflagellates Cochlodinium polykrikoides in the Sea of Oman, Karenia (Gymnodinium) selliformis, Heterosigma akashiwo off Kuwait and the appearance of these causative algae were first time recordings for this region. Although systematic studies of biota have revealed several first time recordings, based on their geographical distribution, we identified 14 species, ranging from microalgae to fish, as suspect alien introductions. Microalgae from ballast water need be cultured to establish their survival under the harsh environmental conditions of the Gulf and screened for phycotoxins. There is a strong need for maritime awareness on the ballast water problem and to implement ballast water management regulations in the Arabian Gulf consistent with International Maritime Organization (IMO) regulations and legal instruments.

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