Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention Program (AIS)
In 1999, in response to the significant environmental threats posed by aquatic nuisance species the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission (PSMFC) established the Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Prevention Program. The goal of the program is to prevent and/or minimize the impacts of AIS, particularly those species that affect fisheries and the habitat upon which those fisheries depend. The program elements include:
• Educational Outreach
• Interjurisdictional Planning and Coordination
Aquatic nuisance or invasive species are nonindigenous species that threaten the diversity or abundance of native species or the ecological stability of infested waters, or commercial, agricultural, aquacultural, or recreational activities dependent on such waters. These AIS include nonindigenous species that may occur in inland, estuarine and marine waters and that presently or potentially threaten ecological processes and natural resources.
In addition to adversely affecting activities dependant on waters of the United States, AIS adversely affect individuals, including health effects. One important criterion that the PSMFC uses to judge a species as “invasive” is its ability to harm commercial and recreationally important fisheries.
Activities & Achievements
The PSMFC supports region-wide projects that are conducted by agencies and universities, including the fish and game agencies from the PSMFC five member states (Idaho, California, Washington, Oregon, and Alaska). In recent years, PSMFC funding to its member states and other entities has been increasingly important as funding from federal sources for AIS program support has declined significantly.
In its role as a regional coordinator of AIS issues, PSMFC serves as the administrator of the 100th Meridian Initiative’s Columbia River Basin Team and the Pacific Ballast Water Group (PBWG), serves on the Executive Committee of the Western Regional Panel on Aquatic Nuisance Species, and is a member of the National Invasive Species Advisory Committee.
The PSMFC AIS Prevention Program has focused on aquatic species invaders including:
• Dreissenid, zebra and quagga mussels (Driessena polymorpha)
• New Zealand mudsnail (Potamopyrgus antipodarum)
• Chinese mitten crab (Eriocheir sinensis)
• European green crab (Carcinus maenas)
• Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar)
Since being introduced into the western United States (Lake Mead, 2007), dreissenid mussels have been a major focus of the program. Elements of the dreissenid prevention program include the Watercraft Inspection Training Program, coordinating dreissenid monitoring for agencies in the Columbia River Basin, and producing educational materials such the AIS News in a Nutshell, Don’t Move a Mussel (video) and in cooperation with the 100th Meridian Initiative, reproducing the Zap the Zebra Brochure.
The PSMFC also played a key role in the development of “Columbia River Basin Interagency Invasive Species Response Plan: Zebra Mussels and Other Dreissenid Species” (Plan). The Plan’s goal, developed with funding from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), is to maximize the delineation and control of dreissenid mussel populations if they are introduced in to the Columbia River Basin waters.
Since 2007, the PSMFC has also supported and coordinated exercises to test the Plan’s effectiveness. In addition to providing training on the National Incident Management System (NIMS), the professionally moderated exercise helps evaluate whether the Plan and its organizational framework can help enhance a basin wide response to an invasive mussel introduction. These exercises also provide state, federal and tribal agencies with the opportunity to test their interagency preparedness for an invasion.
Beginning in 1999, recognizing the potentially huge economic impact to its operations from zebra and quagga mussels, the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) contracted with the PSMFC, to conduct an AIS program for the Columbia River Basin. The USFWS in cooperation with the 100th Meridian Initiative has also been an important program cooperator since its inception, as well as the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS).
Visit the Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention Program (AIS) website at: www.aquaticnuisance.org.