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GLIN==> Item of interest to boaters, anglers



Posted on behalf of Ken Burton <Ken_Burton@fws.gov>

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April 11, 2002
Ken Burton 202-208-5634

'STOP AQUATIC HITCHHIKERS!' CAMPAIGN IS UNVEILED
BY U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE AND THEIR PARTNERS

They are dangerous, expensive, quiet, tiny and some are able to double
their numbers ina matter of hours, and they are hitching rides to invade
pristine lakes, rivers and coastal resources.  Now, the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service and their partners have unveiled a new national program
called "Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers!" along with a new instructive web site,
at www.protectyourwaters.net.

"Most of these aquatic invasive species tag along with people who are some
of our best
conservation partners," said Service Director Steve Williams.  "They are
the people who are out
there for recreation ? fishing, boating, diving, hunting and a lot more.
Their conscientious efforts
have already helped in this fight, and that's why it's important we lend a
hand."

The "Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers!" campaign features a long-term educational
and outreach
effort designed to elevate awareness about the spread of aquatic nuisance
species throughout the
United States, and offer advice, help and voluntary guidelines for aquatic
recreation users.

The "Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers!" campaign promotes some simple steps to
recreational users every time they leave the water:

      * Remove visible mud, plants, fish or animals before transporting
equipment.

      * Eliminate water from equipment before moving it.

      * Clean and dry anything that was in contact with water (boats,
trailers, equipment,

clothing -- and even pets.)

      * Never release plants, fish or animals into a body of water unless
they were found there.

      Many aquatic invaders entered the United States through the discharge
of ballast water
from international freighters and by other means.  These species are often
spread by people --
unknowingly -- as they engage in a number of recreational activities.  Many
aquatic nuisance
species -- like the round goby, the zebra mussel or the sea lamprey -- have
not only reproduced
and spread quickly, but have wreaked havoc with native species, have
reduced game fish
populations, ruined boat engines and industrial water intake systems,
fouled water and power
plants, made lakes and rivers unusable for boaters and swimmers, reduced
property values and
have even affected human health.

As part of the "Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers!" campaign, a web site has been
designed for
recreational users interested in helping to stop the spread of aquatic
nuisance species.  Located
at www.protectyourwaters.net, the site provides details on the recommended
procedure to follow
each time someone leaves a body of water, suggestions about how individuals
and clubs can
become involved to help stop invasions and information on the impact of
nuisance species, along
with detailed information on some of the more troublesome hitchhikers, and
more.

Cathleen Short, Assistant Director for Fisheries and Habitat Conservation,
said the "Stop
Aquatic Hitchhikers!" campaign, which will rely on voluntary participation,
includes a
consortium of partners.  The campaign is being developed by the Aquatic
Nuisance Species Task
Force, co-chaired by the Service and NOAA.   Other members include the
International
Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Army
Corps of Engineers,
the Environmental Protection Agency, the Animal, Plant and Health
Inspection Service and the
Department of State.

"In some cases, it may not be possible to roll back some of the damage, but
we are convinced that by harnessing the energy of thousands of recreational
users in this country, we can make a real difference," Williams said.

-fws-



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