Prevent introductions and control
existing populations of nonindigenous species in U.S. ocean and
The spread of nonindigenous
species, such as zebra mussels, Asian clams, shipworms, and aquatic
weeds, is one of the most serious threats to the nation's ocean
and coastal ecosystems and the communities and economies that
depend on them. One of the primary sources of aquatic nonindigenous
species is discharge of ballast water in ships arriving from
foreign ports. Every minute 40,000 gallons of foreign ballast
water that may contain exotic species, including disease-causing
pathogens, are discharged into U.S. harbors.Other sources include
aquaculture, introductions of stocks for sportfishing, ship hulls,
and floating debris.
Hundreds of nonindigenous species
have now become established in the nation's coastal waters; over
240 nonindigenous species are found in San Francisco Bay alone.
Once established, these species are almost impossible to eradicate.
Nonindigenous species have displaced and eliminated native species,
impacting fisheries and costing communities billions of dollars
every year in control measures. For example, in 1996, foreign
viruses reduced U.S. aquaculture production of shrimp by 50%,
and failure to control the nonindigenous ruffe fish in the Great
Lakes may cost over $ 500 million in losses to sport and commercial
fisheries by 2005. Some nonindigenous species, such as cholera
bacteria and some algae, have also had negative impacts on human
In February 1999, President
Clinton established the U.S. Invasive Species Council through
Executive Order 13112. The Council, chaired by the Secretaries
of Interior, Agriculture, and Commerce, is responsible for fulfilling
the Executive Order's mandates, including the development and
implementation of a national action plan to address invasive
nonindigenous species. While the action plan is a significant
start, immediate and substantial progress is still required.
- The U.S. lacks comprehensive,
coordinated strategies and actions to prevent the introduction
and spread of nonindigenous species in ocean and coastal ecosystems
and to identify and respond to nonindigenous species present
in coastal areas.
- Little information is available
on the potential threats of nonindigenous species, how to prevent
their introduction, or their costs to marine and coastal ecosystems.
- U.S. efforts to date have
focused on controlling existing introductions, and relatively
little has been done to effectively reduce the continuing influx
of nonindigenous aquatic species into coastal areas.
- There is no international
system for controlling introduction of marine nonindigenous species.
- Increase efforts to prevent
and control introductions of nonindigenous species into marine
and coastal ecosystems through the Aquatic Nuisance Species ask
Force established under the Non-Indigenous Aquatic Nuisance Prevention
and Control Act of 1990.
- Increase support for existing
regional initiatives in the Great Lakes, Pacific, and Gulf of
Mexico to control and prevent introductions of nonindigenous
- Develop and implement coordinated
regional strategies in other areas, and integrate all regional
efforts into a national strategy as part of the national nonindigenous
species plan required under Executive Order 13112.
- Fully implement the National
Ballast Water Information and the National Aquatic Nuisance Clearinghouses
to provide a centralized location for information on ballast
water treatment, coastal nonindigenous species, research, and
- Develop effective monitoring,
education, research, and rapid-response capabilities to quickly
identify and eliminate nonindigenous species before they become
- Support international efforts
to prevent the introduction of nonindigenous marine species,
such as the International Maritime Organization's Marine Environmental
Protection Committee's Ballast Water Working Group.
For more information