Press Release from the Northeast-Midwest Institute
April 13, 2005
Contact: Allegra Cangelosi (202/464-4007)
Invasive Species Legislation Introduced
Washington, D.C. (April 13, 2005) – Our nation's waters face increasing threats from aquatic invasive species, and today, Senators Carl Levin (D-MI) and Susan Collins (R-ME), and Representatives Wayne Gilchrest (R-MD) and Vernon Ehlers (R-MI) introduced legislation to reduce the risk of harm to U.S. aquatic ecosystems and natural resources from these invaders.
The National Aquatic Invasive Species Act of 2005 would reauthorize and strengthen the National Invasive Species Act of 1996 in order to protect U.S. waters by preventing new introductions of aquatic invaders. The bill provides for rapid response when new invaders are discovered, for controlling those species that are established in our waters, and for researching pathways of introduction as well as prevention and control technologies.
Aquatic invasive species threaten biodiversity nationwide. Moreover, estimates of their annual economic damage in the U.S. range as high as tens of billions of dollars. Once an exotic species establishes itself, it is almost impossible to eradicate and sometimes difficult to prevent from moving throughout the nation.
“The stakes are high when invasive species are unintentionally introduced into our nation’s waters. They endanger ecosystems, reduce biodiversity, and threaten native species. Past invasions forewarn of the long-term consequences to our environment and communities unless we take steps to prevent new invasions,” Senator Collins said. “The National Aquatic Invasive Species Act of 2005 offers a strong framework for states throughout the nation to detect, prevent, and respond to aquatic invasive species.”
“The serious problem of aquatic invasive species costs the American public billions of dollars a year,” said Senator Levin. “In particular, invasive species threaten the health of the Great Lakes, one our most magnificent and important natural resources. This bill provides crucial protection for the Great Lakes and our nation’s waterways from these harmful organisms.”
Senator Levin is co-chair of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force, and Senator Collins is co-chair of the Northeast-Midwest Senate Coalition. Representative Gilchrest is co-chair of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Task Force, and Representative Ehlers is co-chair of the House Great Lakes Task Force. The Senate bill is numbered S. 770; the House bill is not yet numbered.