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Sea Grant's Baird pleased with new focus on nonindigenous species

CONTACT:   Ronald Baird, NOAA National Sea Grant Office
301-713-2448 or Ben Sherman, Sea Grant National Media Relations.

February 3, 1999 IMMEDIATE RELEASE


WASHINGTON, D.C.  "This is clearly a national issue of the first
magnitude, and one that should be an integral part of our national
agenda," said NOAA National Sea Grant College Program Director Ronald
Baird following the announcement today (Wednesday) of President
Clinton's signing of an Executive Order dealing with the threat of
non-indigenous species.

"Sea Grant has recognized for well over a decade, " says Baird, "the
significant impact, both economically and ecologically, that aquatic
non-indigenous species have and continue to have on our country. Sea
Grant, particularly through strong bipartisan budget support from
Congress over the past nine years, has been aggressively addressing the
issues of aquatic alien species such as the zebra mussel, Eurasian
ruffe, round gobie and others. We are focusing both on research to
identify new methods to control these pests, as well as on prevention
through public education. We welcome the renewed spotlight on the issue,
and pledge to continue to provide important leadership in addressing
these critical issues."

Clinton's order directs "federal agencies to expand and coordinate their
efforts to combat a serious environmental threat: the introduction and
spread of plants and animals not native to the United States." The order
creates an Invasive Species Council to be chaired by the cabinet
secretaries of Interior, Agriculture and Commerce, and will work in
cooperation with a variety of groups including states, tribes,
scientists, universities, environmental groups, farm organizations,
shipping interests and the business community.

Sea Grant, in fiscal year 1998, supported $2.8 million of activities in
both research and public education, and anticipates spending
approximately $3 million.in FY1999.