The role of commercial harbours as sink and source habitats for non-indigenous species (NIS) and the role of recreational boating for their secondary spread were investigated by analysing the fouling community of five Italian harbours and five marinas in the western Mediterranean Sea. It was first hypothesised that NIS assemblages in the recreational marinas were subsets of those occurring in commercial harbours. However, the data did not consistently support this hypothesis: the NIS pools of some marinas significantly diverged from harbours even belonging to the same coastal stretches, including NIS occurring only in marinas. This study confirms harbours as hotspots for marine NIS, but also reveals that numbers of NIS in some marinas is higher than expected, suggesting that recreational vessels effectively facilitate NIS spread. It is recommended that this vector of NIS introduction is taken into account in the future planning of sustainable development of maritime tourism in Europe.

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