Recommendations focus on modernizing marine fisheries laws, making strategic investments, and improving collaboration among federal, state, local, and tribal agencies
The Aquatic Invasive Species Commission, which includes the TRCP and key partners, has released a new report titled, “Improving the Prevention, Eradication, Control and Mitigation of Aquatic Invasive Species.” In the report, the commission calls on Congress to modernize laws, increase spending, and improve coordination at federal, state, local, and tribal levels to combat harmful aquatic invasive species.
Founded in 2022 by scientists, conservationists, anglers, boaters, business leaders, and policy experts, the AIS Commission has worked to assess existing mitigation efforts and identify more effective eradication solutions for invasive species in our nation’s waters, culminating in this detailed report.
“Aquatic invasive species are a tremendous threat to our nation’s waters, causing billions of dollars in economic harm and unquantifiable—often irreversible—damage to ecosystems,” said Dr. Marc Gaden, communications director at the Great Lakes Fishery Commission and associate professor at Michigan State University. “I commend the outdoor industry for taking the threat of aquatic invasive species seriously and for presenting a roadmap for effective policy. I am particularly pleased to see that many of the recommendations focus on the importance of leveraging science to affect policy. I urge Congress to act on these recommendations so that our nation can take immediate action on invasive species prevention and control.”
Many stakeholders consulted by the commission urged Congress to direct agencies to identify regulatory gaps and weak links across all levels of government. Information sharing and the development of data-driven solutions would enable the Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force, an intergovernmental organization, to spread costs and eradicate invasive species in an increasingly interconnected natural environment, the report states.
Empowering this task force with autonomy, staff, and resources was another focus of the report. AIS eradication efforts can cost up to $100 billion per year, and these changes would reduce the burden on individual agencies.
The report also says that laws should maintain access for boaters and anglers, balancing safe usage with the long-term health of natural resources.
“Access to healthy waters, safe usage, and the long-term health of our natural resources is always on the minds of anglers and boaters while on the water,” said Bassmaster Elite Series pro Mark Menendez. “Ensuring the long-term health of our waterways is crucial in lessening the economic burden that aquatic invasive species unfortunately present to communities impacted by these harmful species. Control, eradication, and beneficial burgeoning industries will play a key part in collaborating to reduce many harmful species from our aquatic systems.”
The American public has a role to play in this effort, as well. The report calls on natural resource managers to maintain and strengthen public engagement over AIS issues. Coordinated, science-based education on AIS prevention is key to effectively stopping the spread of AIS in our waters. The commission recommends securing additional funding for the appropriate agencies to expand signage and work to address language barriers at boat launches and fishing access points to promote angler-led AIS prevention activities, including “Clean, Drain, Dry” decontamination actions.
The TRCP played a key role in a similar process to engage marine fisheries stakeholders in planning for the future. The organization convened and helped to lead the Morris-Deal Commission—name for its two industry champions, Johnny Morris of Bass Pro Shops and Scott Deal of Maverick Boats—whose 2014 report laid the groundwork for many of the solutions secured by the Modern Fish Act in 2018.
We’re excited to advocate for the many recommendations in this latest report that will help improve recreational fishing in America.
Photo by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service