Key legislation still pending as 107th Congress draws to a close
Aquatic Nuisance Species: The time to act is now!
Ann Arbor, Mich.— With time running out for the 107th Congress, the
Great Lakes Commission is urging it not to forget the acute threat that aquatic
nuisance species pose to the Great Lakes and the rest of the nation’s ecosystems.
The Commission is calling on Congress to expedite reauthorization of the
National Invasive Species Act (NISA), the nation’s primary legislation for
the prevention and control of invasive aquatic nuisance species (ANS). With
only a few short weeks in the lame-duck session following the Nov. 5 election,
any legislation not completed then will have to start the process anew when
the 108th Congress convenes in January.
“We can’t afford to delay,” said Sam Speck, chair of the Great Lakes Commission
and director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. “With the Great
Lakes facing the threat of a potentially disastrous invasion by the Asian
carp, and the continued spread and proliferation of destructive invaders
such as the zebra and quagga mussels and the round goby, we must have this
In calling for passage of the new legislation, known as the National Aquatic
Invasive Species Act (NAISA) of 2002, the Commission encouraged Congress
to include a series of measures recommended by the Great Lakes Panel on Aquatic
Nuisance Species. These measures, which directly address prevention and control
measures in the Great Lakes, include:
• Investing in programs that will prevent new ANS introductions into Great
Lakes waters, such as an improved, more durable electric barrier in the Chicago
Sanitary and Ship Canal.
• Funding state ANS management plans and regional ANS panels, including the
Great Lakes Panel on Aquatic Nuisance Species. Since invasive species wreak
havoc regardless of political boundaries, such regional panels address the
critical need to manage aquatic invasive species on a state, regional and
• Establishing national standards for preventing the introduction and spread
of ANS through ballast water discharges.
• Establishing a process to identify the most likely pathways for ANS introduction,
so that tools can be developed to block those pathways.
• Developing a rapid response program to address and minimize new ANS introductions.
• Raising the profile of information, education and outreach programs aimed
at raising awareness of how officials, businesses and the general public
can help prevent the introduction and spread of ANS.
Three bills are now before Congress. In the House, reauthorization provisions
are contained in a bill (H.R. 5396) introduced by Rep. Wayne Gilchrest of
Maryland, while Rep. Vernon Ehlers of Michigan introduced a separate bill
(H.R. 5395) on research. The Senate is considering a related bill (S. 2964)
introduced by Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan.
The call comes at the time when the Commission is beginning work on a system
to map and track ANS invasions in Michigan, providing resource managers with
a new tool to prevent and control such invasions.
The Commission will develop a map-based database, commonly known as a geographic
information system, that will provide timely and reliable information on
Michigan ANS invasions. Accessible via the Internet, the system will assist
the state’s resource managers and decisionmakers in coordinating their efforts
and help keep ANS invasions out of uninfested waters. It will also provide
a basis for further applications of the decision-support tool on a broader,
The new project, funded by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality
through the Michigan Great Lakes Protection Fund, complements a growing suite
of Great Lakes Commission projects aimed at ANS prevention and control. These
include development of an early detection and monitoring program, and a rapid
response project, both funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
– Great Lakes National Program Office.
The Great Lakes Commission, chaired by Samuel W. Speck (Ohio)
, is a nonpartisan, binational compact agency created by state and U.S.
federal law and dedicated to promoting a strong economy, healthy environment
and high quality of life for the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence region and its
residents. The Commission consists of state legislators, agency officials
and governors’ appointees from its eight member states. Associate membership
for Ontario and Québec was established through the signing of a “Declaration
of Partnership.” The Commission maintains a formal Observer program involving
U.S. and Canadian federal agencies, tribal authorities, binational agencies
and other regional interests. The Commission offices are located in Ann