The Nature Conservancy applauds addition of eleven freshwater species to federal ban list
Ten fish and one crayfish added to USFWS injurious species list
November 18, 2016
Invasive species in the Great Lakes already cost the region’s economy hundreds of millions of dollars annually. This toll could increase dramatically if new invasions are left unchecked. To counter this threat, the US Fish and Wildlife Service announced recently that 11 additional freshwater aquatic nonnative species are banned from trade or import into the United States. This was determined by examining the damage they have caused in other waters in similar climates.
Ten fish species (Crucian carp, Eurasian minnow, Prussian carp, Roach, Stone moroko, Nile perch, Amur sleeper, European perch, Zander, Wels catfish) and one crayfish (Yabby) have been added to the USFWS’ injurious species list. Though currently not part of trade or imported, all 11 species have been determined through a risk assessment process to have a high climate match – meaning, if released, could thrive within the Great Lakes basin. They also have a history of invasiveness in European, Asian and/or African bodies of water – expanding their nonnative range, preying on native fish, and competing with native fish for food and habitat and sometimes transmitting harmful disease and contaminants to other fish and even humans.
“We support proactive, scientifically based risk assessments to determine which species will be allowed into the United States. It is good public policy that protects the environment from new aquatic invasive species (AIS) threats that can disrupt our economy and ecosystems,” said Dave Hamilton, The Nature Conservancy’s senior policy director for the Great Lakes. “Past practice has been to prohibit a species only after its established in the US and causing damage. This proactive assessment and restriction is an important step in protecting the interests of the people who depend on the Great Lakes for a range of services as well as the habitat of the native fish and other species that belong in the lakes.”
“For years the Conservancy has worked across the basin with partners to minimize the spread of aquatic invasive species like Asian carp, Eurasian ruffe and zebra mussels -- but it is challenging to slow their path once they’ve breached the border,” said Dennis McGrath, director of The Nature Conservancy's Great Lakes Project. “We encourage the federal government to take more preventive measures like this to prevent an AIS domino effect across Illinois and the Great Lakes basin.”
GIS mapping shows the historic spread of several alien species in the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River Basins over time. TNC and its partners take a four-pronged approach to combat AIS: prevention, surveillance and response, control, and unified policies.
Hamilton noted that prevention is the best and most cost effective measure and early detection and rapid response can stop new invaders from becoming established in the basin. Also, tools are being developed to control previously established species and the Conservancy is engaging with public and private entities to develop effective policies across the basin, he said.
“AIS is one of many threats to our Great Lakes, but it is worth the ongoing investment to mitigate, or even eliminate, invasive species in the lakes,” Hamilton added. “Great Lakes-related industries such as fisheries and recreation add billions of dollars to our economy. And globally, they are the largest and one of the most unique freshwater systems in the world. We thank USFWS for its foresight and effort to prevent additional threats to the lakes.”
Click here to see the USFWS release and additional information about the injurious list of species.
The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at unprecedented scale, and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in more than 65 countries, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.