On November 6-7, 2019, the Aquatic Nuisance Species (ANS) Task Force held a two-day meeting at the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Library in Beltsville, Maryland. Action items are listed below, followed by a summary of the meeting.

New Action Items

The ANS Task Force assigned the following action items:

  • Develop a concise synopsis of key invasive species invasive species
    An invasive species is any plant or animal that has spread or been introduced into a new area where they are, or could, cause harm to the environment, economy, or human, animal, or plant health. Their unwelcome presence can destroy ecosystems and cost millions of dollars.

    Learn more about invasive species
    interagency organizations with relevant documents.
  • Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Coast Guard will report out at the next ANS Task Force meeting on “Intergovernmental Response Framework for Vessel Discharge Risks” and how the ANS Task Force can engage.
  • Once complete, the U.S. Coast Guard will submit the Report to Congress described under the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act to the ANS Task Force for comment.
  • Subcommittees will refine their work plans and resubmit them to the ANS Task Force by December 16. ANS Task Force members and panels will provide comments on the work plans to the Executive Secretary by January 13.
  • The American Boat and Yacht Council will be invited to provide an update on the status of the Technical Information Report marketing at the next ANS Task Force meeting
  • Co-Chairs will establish an ad-hoc subcommittee to review the Draft ANS Task Force Bylaws, establishing roles, responsibilities, and operating procedures of the ANS Task Force for consideration at the next ANS Task Force meeting. The ad-hoc subcommittee can identify other issues outside the scope of the bylaws that they would also like to see addressed. Members interested in serving on the subcommittee should let the co-chairs know by December 1.
  • Members and regional panels are invited to provide suggestions to the co-chairs on format, content, and layout of the next Report to Congress.
  • The next ANS Task Force will be held the week of May 4 and hosted by the Northeast Regional Panel. Wednesday – November 6, 2019


David Hoskins (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) and Jennifer Lukens (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) welcomed attendees and thanked them for attending the meeting.  Jennifer Lukens reviewed the agenda, which included discussions on the draft bylaws for the ANS Task Force, review of the work plans prepared by the subcommittees from the last meeting, and potential next steps on the Quagga Zebra Action Plan and Genetic Biocontrol. During the meeting, the ANS Task Force will also updates on the USGS Non-Indigenous Aquatic Species database, the Vessel Incident Discharge Act, the National eDNA working group, and several interagency invasive species organizations.

David Hoskins welcomed the group and recognized the ANS Task Force members, regional panels, and committees that have dedicated hours of time and expertise to ensure meeting action items are progressing and completed.

Susan Pasko (USFWS, ANS Task Force Executive Secretary) introduced herself and reviewed the meeting logistics.


ANS Task Force members and audience members introduced themselves. The list below includes both in-person and call-in attendees.



Al Cofrancesco

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Alanne Keating

Boat US Foundation

April Brun*

New York State Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation

Bill Whitacre*

Western Governors' Association

Brendon Maloney

DC Legislative & Regulatory Services

Carolyn Junemann*

U.S. Department Of Transportation Maritime Administration

Chad Tokowicz

American Sportfishing Association

Chris Edmonston

Boat US Foundation

Chris Scianni*

California State Lands Commission =

Cindy Williams*

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Clay Crabtree*

National Marine Manufacturers Association

Craig Martin

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Dave Hu

Bureau of Land Management

David Hoskins

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Dennis Zabaglo

Tahoe Regional Planning Agency

Dolores Savignano

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Don MacLean

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Doug Curtis

Bureau of Land Management

Doug Jensen*

University of Minnesota Sea Grant Program

Elizabeth Brown

Colorado Parks and Wildlife / Western Regional Panel

Elizabeth Phelps*

U.S. Department of State

Eric Fischer

Indiana Department of Natural Resources

Erika Jensen

Great Lakes Commission

Gina Ramos

Bureau of Land Management

Hilary Smith

U.S. Department of the Interior

Jack Faulk

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

James Ballard

Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission

Jay Kilian

Maryland Department of Natural Resources / Mid-Atlantic Regional Panel

Jeanette Davis

NOAA Fisheries

Jennifer Lukens

NOAA Fisheries

Joanne Grady*

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

John Darling

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

John Morris

U.S. Coast Guard

John Wullschleger

National Park Service

Joyce Bolton


Karen McDowell*

San Francisco Estuary Partnership

Kelly Pennington

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

Kevin Cute

Coastal Resources Management Council

Kim Bogenschutz

Iowa Department of Natural Resources/ Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies

Kim Chesteen

U.S. Coast Guard

Libby Yranski

National Marine Manufacturers Association

Lynn Creekmore

U.S Department of Agriculture - Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

Mandy Bromilow

NOAA Fisheries

Mark Lewandowski

Maryland Department of Natural Resources / Chesapeake Bay Program

Maggie Hunter*

U.S. Geological Survey

Mark Minton*

Smithsonian Environmental Research Center

Marshall Meyers


Meg Modley

Lake Champlain Basin Program

Michele L Tremblay*

Northeast Aquatic Nuisance Species Panel

Mike Ielmini

U.S. Forest Service

Nicholas Down

American Waterways Operators

Paul Zajicek

National Aquaculture Association

Phil Andreozzi

U.S Department of Agriculture - Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

Rick Lance

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Sarah LeSage

Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy

Stas Burgiel

National Invasive Species Council Secretariat

Su Jewell

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Susan Pasko

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Tammy Davis*

Alaska Department of Fish and Game

Wesley Daniel

U.S. Geological Survey

*On the phone

Adoption of Agenda/Approval of Minutes

Jennifer Lukens called for a motion to approve the meeting agenda. The meeting agenda was approved with no discussion.

Jennifer Lukens called for a motion to approve the meeting minutes from the May 2019 ANS Task Force meeting in South Lake Tahoe, California. The minutes were approved unanimously without discussion.

Status of Action Items

Susan Pasko provided an overview on the status on the action items from the May 2019 ANS Task Force meeting, listed below.

Action Item


ANS Task Force members and regional panels will send any comments on the revised North Dakota ANS Management Plan by June 1.


  • Comments were compiled and sent to North Dakota representatives.
  • The North Dakota Plan was approved by the state and signed by the Governor prior to ANSTF review. Consequently, the state opted not to address the comments for ANS Task Force approval. North Dakota understands that the plan is ineligible for funding from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service grant program until it is approved by the ANS Task Force.

ANS Task Force Co-chairs will review the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act (VIDA) to identify ANS Task Force roles and responsibilities and report back at the Fall 2019 ANS Task Force meeting.


  • Under VIDA, the ANS Task Force is directed to 1)Work on consultation and coordination on establishing a framework for a response to risks from ballast water discharges and incidental discharge requirements (Sec. 903(a), amendment to 33 U.S.C. 1322 to include (p)(6)(E)(i)); and 2)Consult and cooperate in the development of a report on the data for ballasting practices, compliance with guidelines and other information found under ecological surveys conducted by the Task Force for the preceding two years to evaluate trends and nationwide status of ballast water delivery and management; and invasions of aquatic nuisance species resulting from ballast water. (Sec. 903(h), amendment to 16 U.S.C. 4712(f))
  • A session on VIDA and Ballast Water is scheduled for November 6, allowing time for the ANS Task Force to identify possible steps to fulfill these responsibilities.

The ANS Task Force will coordinate with applicable members to respond to the Mid-Atlantic Panel recommendation regarding the Chesapeake Nutria Eradication Partnership.


  • The Mid-Atlantic Panel recommendation was communicated to the USFWS National Wildlife Refuge System and U.S. Department of Agriculture.
  • Both agencies expressed support and added that saturation monitoring in the Chesapeake Bay to ensure eradication is successful is scheduled to be complete by December 2020 within the designated watersheds of the Delmarva Peninsula. Support for expansion into Virginia and North Carolina is being considered to ensure success of the investment in the Chesapeake Bay region.
  • The recommendation was also considered in the USFWS testimony to amend the Nutria Eradication and Control Act of 2003, which encouraged expansion of the nutria eradication program. The testimony offered to work with the House Committee on Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Oceans, and Wildlife to include other impacted states in the legislation.

The Western Regional Panel will communicate perspectives from the ANS Task Force to the Panel members regarding the revision and potential expansion of QZAP and provide a recommended approach to the ANS Task Force.


  • The chair of the Western Regional Panel communicated the perspectives from the ANS Task Force following the May 2019 meeting.
  • The Panel has started to draft updated recommendations for the 2010 QZAP document to develop a more regional implementation strategy for watercraft inspection and decontamination and improve collaboration with partners to stop the spread and protect the uninfested West from invasive mussels.
  • The Western Regional Panel will be providing an update in this work on November 7, 2019. 

Actions related to ANS Task Force Subcommittees:

  • ANS Task Force members will submit self-nominations for first and second choice committees as well as how many committees they are willing to participate in by June 1.
  • ANS Task Force co-chairs will review nominations and finalize committee membership.
  • ANS Task Force co-chairs will seek clarification on committee structure structure
    Something temporarily or permanently constructed, built, or placed; and constructed of natural or manufactured parts including, but not limited to, a building, shed, cabin, porch, bridge, walkway, stair steps, sign, landing, platform, dock, rack, fence, telecommunication device, antennae, fish cleaning table, satellite dish/mount, or well head.

    Learn more about structure
    and membership

Committees will review outputs and develop annual work plans for the Goal by October 1.


  • The request for nomination was sent out following the May 2019 meeting.
  • Nominations and committee structure was reviewed by the co-chairs; final committee list were distributed in September 2019.
  • The committees held calls throughout October; draft work plans have been distributed to the ANS Task Force meeting and will be reviewed and discussed on November 6 and 7, 2019.

Discussion: ANS Task Force Bylaws

David Hoskins explained that draft bylaws were sent out the ANS Task Force members and regional panel chair prior to the meeting. Hoskins provided a brief overview of the categories and content of the bylaws before opening the subject for discussion.

Q: Could the regional panels be considered as government entities that should have voting rights?

Hoskins: Definition of membership falls into two categories: (1) Federal and (2) Ex-officio.  Regional Panels are described elsewhere in the statute and have a different role. Some regional panel chairs also serve as ex-officio members, but represent the ex-officio organization and not the regional panel.  

Q: Under Terms of Office, it now sounds as though there is a maximum 2-year term that can be served on the Task Force, whereas in the past terms could be renewed.

Hoskins: We will clarify that members will serve for two -year terms, but can be re-appointed.

Comment: Recommend a requirement that the Task Force must provide a response to regional panel recommendations.

Hoskins: This responsibility has fallen to relevant Task Force members in the past. The bylaws could include responding to the regional panels as part of the membership expectations.

Q: Does 2-year term only apply to agencies not mentioned by statute?

Hoskins: Yes.

Q: Why do we need term limits?

Hoskins: Currently appointments are on a three-year cycle.  We want the terms concurrent with charter, which is renewed every two years.

Q: Is a charter required by Statute?

Hoskins: Yes, the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) requires a charter.

Q: Does the Nonindigenous Aquatic Nuisance Prevention and Control Act require a charter?

Hoskins: No.

Q: How did we decided we needed a FACA design for this group?

Hoskins: It was discussed with the USFWS Solicitor, who says the group must be chartered under FACA, and under FACA, a charter needs to be renewed every 2 years.

Comment: It may be helpful to provide roles and responsibility under FACA.

Hoskins: The group has operated under FACA since 1991. The purpose of the by-laws is to clarify day-to-day operations, and as a step down of the statute and charter. By-laws are first draft not reviewed yet by the Solicitor or a FACA expert.  They are a draft for members to review.

Comment: These do not quite go far enough in communication and responsibilities.

Q: Who can make recommendations to the Task Force?

Hoskins: Assume any voting member can make a motion (including ex-officio members).  Regional panels are not voting members and, therefore, make recommendations to the Task Force.

Comment: It would be good to clarify who can/cannot vote, and who can/cannot submit recommendation. 

Presentation: USGS NAS Database: New Invasions and Actionable Tools

Wes Daniel of the U.S. Geological Survey gave a presentation on the Non-indigenous Aquatic Species (NAS) Database.  He provided an update on new United States invasions of ANS.  Data comes from literature reviews (45%), NAS sighting reports (26%), and personal communication (26%). There have been 156 new invasions since the last ANS Task Force meeting in May 2019 none new to the country.  None of the invasions were new to the country, 24 of the report were a new invasion to a particular state. Notable new invasions and range expansions included the Cuban treefrog, swamp eel, northern snakehead, Hydrilla, red swamp crayfish, yellow floating-heart, and Dreissena Mussels. Daniel also highlighted efforts by the program to create and enhance tools and resources.  There are species profiles, impact tables, distributional maps, and actionable maps and tools. The site is now compliant with the North American Invasive Species Management Association mapping standards.  Maps now have the capability to add layers for waterfalls, boat ramps, Canadian drainages, and native ranges of species. Alert Risk Mapper shows areas at risk following new sightings. The Flood and Storm Tracker (FaST) tool creates maps that show areas with sufficient flooding and connecting drainage that may allow non-native species access to new drainages. The SEINeD tool will allow stakeholders to upload a biological dataset collected anywhere in the conterminous US, Alaska, Hawaii, or US Territory that can be screened for invasive or non-native aquatic species occurrences  The 2020 Plan includes integrating eDNA data into NAS database.  The USGS will be working closely with States and Federal agencies and other applicable parties to gather input as this feature is being built. The USGS is also participating on the ANS Task Force Early Detection Rapid Response committee as the NAS database is an essential component to many of the proposed outputs from this committee.

Q; Do you actively search the literature?

A: Yes

Q: Are you working with all 50 states?

A: Yes, but USGS does not receive much data from Alaska, Hawaii, or the territories.

Q: There are many useful tools with NAS and NOAA GLANSIS.  What is the overlap and relationship?

A: GLANSIS used the data from NAS. Data is used to produce impact studies, risk assessments, and other region specific documents.

Q: Do we really need more economics info? How does this info influence decisions?

A: We need to figure out how this information being perceived. The benefit of management vs. the cost of invasive species may be a tipping point when decisions are made.

Update: Department of the Interior Initiatives

Hilary Smith, Senior Advisor on Invasive Species for the Department of the Interior (DOI) providedan update on select initiatives underway at the Department of the Interior.  DOI has recently produced the 2019 progress report for the Safeguarding the West from Invasive Species Initiative; a final report is planned for 2020. DOI is also working on a Congressional Directive to develop an Incident Command System (ICS) framework for the West that will build on existing efforts to enhance capacity of states to respond to new species detection. Development of a Categorical Exclusion for rapid response to new species detections and control of established populations continues to progress; currently a DOI-wide Work Group is defining the scope and conditions for the proposed Categorical Exclusion. Lastly, the John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management and Recreation Act directs the DOI to develop a plan to achieve a substantive annual net reduction in invasive species. The plan is being developed in coordination with states, political subdivisions of states, and in consultation with federally recognized Indian Tribes. It is anticipated that the plan will be completed by Summer 2020. 

Update: National Invasive Species Council Management Plan

Stas Burgiel, Acting Executive Director of the National Invasive Species Council, provided an update on National Invasive Species Council (NISC) activities. In October, NISC received final approval for the Terms of Reference (which includes roles and responsibilities; mechanisms of coordination; annual work plan development) and the FY2020 NISC Work Plan. Work Plans are developed for each FY in line with available resources and using a set of strategic decision-making criteria to identify priority activities for implementation. The action identified within the work plan must align with Executive Order 13751, address a pressing invasive species issue identified by a Council member agency, have a commitment for agency engagement, identify a beneficial role for NISC staff participation, be feasible given current staff and resource capabilities, and follow “USMART” principles (Useful, Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Based). The FY2020 NISC Work Plan includes actions under the areas of rapid response, eDNA assessment & coordination, advanced biotechnology applications, invasive Species and wildland fire, and crosscut budget assessments. NISC is currently considering engagement with the ANS Task Force to work on shared priorities.

Presentation: Federal Interagency Committee for the Management of Noxious and Exotic Weeds

Gina Ramos, Bureau of Land Management, co-chair of the Federal Interagency Committee for the Management of Noxious and Exotic weeds (FICMNEW) [with Mike Ielmini, U.S. Forest Service] presented highlights of the history, status, key accomplishments, and operations of FICMNEW over the past 25 years. FICMNEW was established in 1994, by a Memorandum of Understanding, to coordinate the work of federal agencies across 17 Federal to address national and regional invasive plant issues. FICMNEW was identified in the 1999 Presidential Executive Order 13112.  FICMNEW is not a FACA Committee, but has both Executive Session meetings and open public meetings. FICMNEW’s national role is to coordinate information regarding the identification and extent of invasive plants in the United States and to coordinate federal agency management of these species. FICMNEW accomplishes its role by sharing scientific and technical information; fostering collaborative efforts among federal agencies; sponsoring and coordinating technical conferences and workshops; and strengthening partnerships with local, regional, state, tribal, national and international organizations concerning invasive plants. In order to fulfill its roles, obligations and duties, FICMNEW member agencies collaborate to develop a 2-year Work Plan that outlines key invasive plant management issues to work on within the group’s limited capacity. There are standing committees that conduct work in the areas of Networking and Coordination, Education and Outreach, Policy, Management, Research, and Technology Transfer, and the North American Invasive Species Forum. FICMNEW forged the “Pulling Together National Strategy for the Management of Invasive Plants.” The Strategy details priorities in effective prevention, control and restoration; principles still held today. The “Pulling Together Initiative” program matches federal dollars with corporate and other funding to create and support Cooperative Weed Management Area organizations nationwide. Over the span of 21 years, Pulling Together Initiative awarded approximately $24.6 million to 649 organizations, leveraged by $54.8 million in grantee matching non-federal funds. 

Most recently, this program was vital mechanism to address invasive plants that affect the conservation of the Sagebrush Biome and the Greater Sage grouse across 12 Western States. FICNEWNEW also published Invasive Plants Changing the Landscape of America, an overview of invasive plants in the United State to increase the awareness about the destruction and losses caused by invasive plants in the United States.  Over the years, FICNEW has sponsored several workshops, Congressional briefings, conferences, and awareness events.

Q: There is commonality with organisms and vectors.  Should we look at a coordination committee with Canada or Mexico? Organisms do not respect borders.

A: FICMNEW has a strong relationship with Mexico and Canada and international representatives serve on several committees. The North American Invasive Species Association has provided addition forums for cross-border work.

Comment: Could the ANS Task Force produce a reference document that describes the role of each interagency group, similar to the invasive species definitions white paper. It should include information on relationship between groups.

Comment: We struggle with this issue at the regional level and need to understand how regional groups fit in to larger initiatives. There is competition for resources between terrestrial and aquatic taxa; it would help if we could get them working together better. Agency staffs are not the same across taxa.

A: The ANS Task Force can put together description of each entity and attach relevant management plans. (See Action Item)

Update and Discussion: Vessel Incident Discharge Act (VIDA) / Ballast Water

Jennifer Lukens introduced John Morris, U.S. Coast Guard (USGS), to provide an update on the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act (VIDA). Morris noted a new issue regarding the current outbreak of stony coral tissue loss disease (SCTLD) in coral reefs of SE FL and the Caribbean.  Although the definitive cause of SCTLD is unknown, there are indications it may be in part due to bacteria.  As such, bacteria like other organisms in the water column can be transported by Ballast Water.  Coast Guard has responded to this problem by issuing a Marine Safety Information Bulletin, reminding mariners of the regulatory requirements and the potential for voluntary best management practices.  Morris then discussed acceptable options for compliance with the Coast Guard’s regulations: no discharge, install ballast water management systems that are approved, discharge to facility onshore or to another vessel for purpose of treatment, or use only water from a U.S. public water system. Ballast water affects many aspects of vessel operations, it is imperative that owners and operators give serious attention to having contingency provisions in place in the event a preferred or primary compliance method is not available. The Alternate Management Systems (AMS) Program was originally included in the 2012 discharge standard rule as a bridging strategy in recognition that many ships were installing International Maritime Organization (IMO) compliant systems prior to availability of USCG-approved systems. Vessels that have reached the end of the AMS period, but which need some extra time to come into compliance, can request a limited extension to the AMS period. The Ballast Water Extension Program allows USCG to extend a vessel’s compliance date. Coast Guard has issued about 12,500 active extensions, with most expiring by the end of 2022. VIDA does not include a statutory mandate to continue to recognize AMS or grant extensions; the USCG will need to re-evaluate need for these programs when promulgating VIDA regulations. A Viability Policy Letter is being drafted to describe the process by which the Coast Guard will evaluate proposed viability assessment methods; it is expected to be finalized next month. The USCG is also working with the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to draft enforceable standards that will include discharge limits and management practices. A Report to Congress detailing ballast water delivery and management and invasions resulting from ballast water discharge is in development. The Report will be distributed to the ANS Task Force for review. A work group has been established to develop a process for sharing reporting and enforcement data with the States. VIDA also requires the development of an Intergovernmental Response Framework; the USGS will be working with then ANS Task Force to accomplish this task.

Jack Faulk, EPA, presented on the regulatory framework for discharges from commercial vessels under VIDA.

Faulk provided a brief overview of VIDA, which was enacted on December 4, 2018 that changes the U.S. framework for regulating incidental discharges primarily from commercial vessels. The law is intended to streamline the patchwork of federal, state, and local requirements in the U.S. Under VIDA, the EPA will develop national standards of performance by December 2020 for over 20 incidental discharges, including ballast water. Within two years after the standards are finalized, the USCG will develop corresponding implementing, monitoring, and enforcement regulations. Until these elements are complete, large commercial vessels (>79 feet) will continue to be subject to existing pre-VIDA requirements. VIDA repealed the small Vessel General Permit (sVGP) and smaller vessels now only need to comply with ballast water requirements. The state provisions under VIDA allows Governors to petition EPA or USCG to establish Emergency Orders for invasive species and other water quality concerns, to petition EPA to modify standards, to apply for no-discharge zones for any of the applicable VIDA discharges, and to develop enhanced Great Lakes requirements for discharges in the Lakes. VIDA also calls for the EPA and USCG, working with the ANS Task Force, to develop two different Intergovernmental Response Frameworks to address risks from vessel discharges, establish a Coastal Aquatic Invasive Species Mitigation Grant Program, and establish a Great Lakes and Lake Champlain Invasive Species Program to monitor for new ANS, support research and development of ballast water treatment technologies for Lakers, and implement the regulatory framework. The details of these work elements are being worked out; the EPA will keep the ANS Task Force updated on the progress of these items and engage as appropriate.

Q: What would role of ANS Task Force be?

A: Currently the role is to providing input. The ANS Task Force will be engaged as additional work begins to move forward.

Q: Several Great Lakes states submitted comments submitted to EPA. Is there an intent to respond? Is there a timeline?

A: There is not a public comment period, so EPA is not required to respond. They will likely follow up though a meeting or email.  No specific timeline yet, but expect it to be soon. 

Q: What consultation or coordination is going on with Canada?

A: Canada proposed its ballast water regulations in July to meet its obligations as a signatory to the IMO ballast water management convention.  Having simultaneous regulatory development for ballast water ongoing in both the U.S. and Canada raises concerns for vessels operating on the Great Lakes.  Canada’s proposal deems a vessel would be in compliance with the discharge standard by installing and operating a treatment system, regardless of whether discharges from these systems actually meet the discharge standard. This approach is different than has been taken by EPA in the past.  The EPA has met with Canada to discuss the regulation of Great Lakes vessels many times over the past several years and will continue to do so. The Federal Maritime Commission, which looks at unfair trade practices and international regulations, is looking at how Canada’s proposal may affect the U.S. economy (most notably, the U.S. Laker fleet). 

Q: The USCG biennial report evaluating the nationwide status and trends relating to ballast water delivery and management and invasions of aquatic nuisance species resulting from ballast water called for in VIDA will be reviewed by the ANS Task Force.  What about the VIDA required EPA report to Congress on the new Great Lakes and Lake Champlain Invasive Species Program?

A: Not sure if there will be a formal review of the EPA document as it will be a short report to identify existing programs and opportunities so Congress better understands where funds, if available, could be used.

Discussion: Coordination Work Plan

David introduced the discussion by reminding the group that at the last meeting, five subcommittees were formed to help progress the goals within the ANS Task Force Strategic Plan for 2020 - 2025. These subcommittees were charged with reviewing the strategies under the appropriate goal, prioritizing the outputs, and developing a work plan to identify potential actions to be conducted in 2020.  Discussions started with the Coordination Goal Plan. This goal does not have an associated subcommittee as tasks are largely conducted by the ANS Task Force Executive Secretary and support staff.

Susan Pasko reviewed the proposed Coordination work elements for the upcoming year. Work elements include planning for two ANS Task Force meetings and one Regional Panel Principal meeting per year, development of ANS Task Force bylaws, providing technical support for development and approval of state and interstate ANS management plans, refining reporting requirements for the members and regional panels, and drafting reports to Congress.

Comment: Members and regional panels will need time to review the bylaws. This should not be rushed.

Q: Do states need to update plans on a regular basis to remain eligible for funding?

A: ANS Task Force encourages periodic revisions. The guidance says states should consider revision after five years, but this is not required.

Comment: Reporting from the members and panels should be limited to once per year. We should look for a way to gather all information using one mechanism.  

Q: The mission of the ANS Task Force stated in the Act is to develop and implement an ANS for waters of the United States.  However, the annual report is about how the ANS Task Force is implementing the Strategic Plan. How do we distinguish the two?

A: The direction under the Act is very large and broad. The Strategic Plans is a mechanism to interpret how we deliver on this charge. Given the many components and width breadth of ANS Task Force, we struggle with what to report to Congress as the work of the ANS Task Force. Calling attention to the work under the Strategic Plan helps to keep the report focused.

Comment: Agencies conduct work irrespective of ANSTF, but include efforts in the Report to Congress as they support the Act. This detail should be made clear in the Report. The Report also needs to be reflective of the entire ANS Task Force, including all agency names and logos. This will allow other agencies to promote the report.

Comment: We should document that the regional panels host the spring meeting on rotating basis.

Discussion: Prevention Subcommittee Work Plan

Craig Martin, USFWS, reviewed the draft Prevention Subcommittee Work Plan. Proposed work elements include evaluating and refining the pathway risk assessment process, working with applicable Federal agencies to make organisms in trade importation data electronically available and searchable, assessing new ANS introductions to determine where prevention measures may have been lacking or ineffective, implementing the roles and responsibilities of the ANS Task Force under the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act, and entering into national prevention practices and agreements with natural resource agencies and responsible industry sectors.

Q: Are there limitations on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to ability to make organisms in trade importation data electronically available?

A: The Service will have a dialogue with the Officer of Law Enforcement about ANS needs and challenges. The Prevention Subcommittee will develop a briefing paper to prepare for that.

Comment: Another challenge will be identifying organisms down to species (or subspecies, hybrid) level. 

Q: How will the subcommittee make sure they have captured the most important risk management actions, gaps, and authorities using case studies? Accuracy depends on selection of case studies.

A:  A first step may be to focus on two pathways – transportation and organisms in trade.  Select case studies that fit under those categories, showing examples of where there have been failures and how the pathway can be better managed. 

Q: How do we measure the effectiveness of prevention practices?

A: Could be as simple as saying there are no new invasions into the U.S. this year. Several published papers that can also be reviewed to help develop metrics. Metrics can be challenging, as they require understanding of the monitoring and enforcement efforts to be meaningful.

Comment:  A possible metric may be a reduction in average number of species entering the U.S.

Comment: Ballast water has looked at reductions in invasion rate to demonstrate effectiveness of management to reduce propagule and vessel compliance.

Comment: Consider including interested states on the subcommittee to assist with the output on ballast water.

Q: Given the current work on implementing VIDA, when is a good time to look at the role of the ANS Task Force?

A: There may not be enough current agency activity under VIDA to initiate the ad hoc committee in FY20.  An ideal time to initiate an ad hoc committee may be next year (2021). 

Q: Will hull fouling be included in the ballast water work?

A: Hull fouling is currently covered under EPA's Vessel General Permit but may be regulated under VIDA once regulations are promulgated.  In addition, development of an Intergovernmental Response Framework, as called for under VIDA, may include hull fouling.

Comment: There should be a prioritization of pathways / industries based on existing work or gaps. May be time to recommunicate classroom guidelines, as this has reemerged as a priority issue.

Discussion: Research Subcommittee Work Plan

Jeanette Davis, NOAA, reviewed the draft Research Subcommittee Work Plan.  Proposed work elements include development of an annual priority research list that include research entities that have the ability to address ANS research needs and creating a model for a ANS Task Force research grant program.

Q: For the Federal agencies, it may be valuable to have a statement from the ANSTF that emphasizes the priorities and encourages work in the priority areas. Would the subcommittee consider incorporating into this output?

A: Yes.

Comment: The John Dingle Act authorizes funds for a prize challenge for invasive species innovations (not appropriated). The effort may be a possible Segway to fund research priorities. There may be other similar funding sources.

Q: Will the work of the existing ad-hoc Economics Subcommittee be included under the Research subcommittee?

A: May be best to revisit at the end of the work plan discussions to see which Subcommittee the economics work best fits in.

Public Comments.

Libby Yranski, National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), stated they are doing a video series on ANS. Documentaries created so far have focused on boater education and regional impacts of ANS.  If you are interested in working on future documentaries, please contact NMMA. There is no cost to produce the documentary, only requires you time to help develop the content

Paul Zabaglo, National Aquaculture Association (NAA), mentioned there is lot of ongoing efforts regarding eDNA. The Aquaculture industry is concerned with the use of the technology given the false positive rate. NAA has written a statement on this from the perspective of the aquaculture industry.

ChadTokowicz, American Sportfish Association (ASA), acknowledged that the sportfishing industry has identified ANS as major threat. ASA is seeking opportunities to work with the member and regional panels of the ANS Task Force to manage this threat.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Welcome, Day 2

The ANS Task Force co-chairs welcomed attendees to Day 2 of the meeting.

Discussion: EDRR Subcommittee Work Plan

Dolores Savignano, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, reviewed the draft EDRR Subcommittee Work Plan.  Potential work elements include developing a 3-year plan for capacity-building in the USGS NAS database to meet stakeholder needs, developing recommendations for minimal reporting standards for eDNA detections to be incorporated into the USGS NAS database, creating a template and general guidance for using ICS for rapid response to new species detections, and providing a model to establish and administer an emergency rapid response fund.

Q: How is this work related to that of the Prevention subcommittee?

A: Prevention program would identify target species; horizon scanning would focus on species and location. Both allow for preventative action or EDRR actions to be put in place.

Q: What is the funding viability of NAS?

A: NAS currently has seven base-funded staff.  We are trying to increase the value of the program and can look for partners and funds.  Many tools are automated and additional work is not needed.

Comment:   ANS Task Force should have a strategy to ensure USGS continues to receives support

Comment: It is important to leverage other groups and opportunities that are doing work on eDNA. This should be a government wide project, not just USGS. Canada is also interested in coordinating efforts.

Comment: Senate Commerce Committee has recently asked NOAA for an update on its EDNA efforts.

Comment: NISC is working on an assessment of ICS. NISC and ANS Task Force could collaborate on this.

Comment: DOI was directed to establish an EDRR fund, yet there have been challenges. A first step may be to survey states to see what programs already exist and show they operate. DOI’s EDRR Framework has a section on an emergency response fund.

Comment: The subcommittee may also wish to explore use of the VIDA mitigation funds and how that funding will be used.

Comment: Some members have experience with ICS (e.g., USCG, Forest Service).  The USDA/Veterinary Services response to disease incursions may also be a good model for ANS.

Discussion: Control and Restoration Subcommittee Work Plan

Don MacLean, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, reviewed the draft Control and Restoration Subcommittee Work Plan. Potential work elements include an assessing the status of each ANS Management and Control Plan, identifying a lead for each Plan to report plan progress and implementation needs, and drafting guidance for future ANS Management and Control Plan development.

Q: Will a lead be identified for each plan, or one to oversee all the plans.

A: Likely one per each plan as most plans are being implemented outside the ANS Task Force.

Q: How many management plans are there?

A: 10.

Q: Would gaps identified by the plan leads include capacity and financial gaps?

A: We could consider this.

Discussion: Education and Outreach Subcommittee Work Plan

Susan Pasko reviewed the draft Education and Outreach Subcommittee Work Plan. Proposed work elements include conducting an assessment of National ANS campaigns, identifying individuals with the appropriate expertise to assist with outreach assessment, finishing the Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers portal, defining and identifying leaders for an ANS Community of Practice, and developing fact sheet and briefing templates to promote the work of the ANS Task Force.

Q: What is scope of the assessment?

A: This needs further dialog among the subcommittee, current though is to focus on the effectiveness of the Stop Aquatic Hitchhiker campaigns and similar messages that target water recreational users.

Comment: Regional panels also have outreach committees; we will need to have coordination with the panels to see how regional efforts may support that of the ANS Task Force.

Q: What is a “community of practice”?

A: It is a common term in outreach and refers to a group of people interests in this field that share best practices and creating new knowledge to improve the effectiveness of outreach and marketing. . Regular and frequent in action; co-learning; contribute and take; becomes aligned because of frequent interaction.  A community of practice can be used to bring forward ideas and vet them, and see if there is interest in forming partnerships.

Comment: We do not have a template or letterhead that is unique to the Task Force; we may need to develop this.

Discussion Summary/Next Steps: Work Planning

Hoskins thanked the Subcommittee members for their work in developing the draft work plans. Actions items included identifying a chair for each subcommittee, completing the committee work plans by December 16, 2019 and distributing the work plans to the ANS Task Force with comments due January 13, 2020

 Decisional: USDA Motion to the ANS Task Force

U.S. Department of Agriculture offered a motion to the ANS Task Force to help improve operations within the ANS Task Force.  Mike Ielmini, U.S. Forest Service, walked through the motion.  They are things for the ANS Task Force to consider as they discuss ways to build capacity. Opportunity to open the dialog. This included the need to update, revise, or rescind documents that guide the functionality of the ANS Task Force and recommendations to improve the design and management of meetings.

Comment: Development on a revised COI and Cooperative Funding Agreements would be beneficial for the regional panels.

Comment: Many operating procedures are governed by FACA regulations can cannot be changed. The Strategic Plan took a lot of effort and should be what the ANS Task Force strives to achieve in the next 5 years. Implementation of the plan may help address roles and responsibilities of the individual members. 

Q:  FACA is used to facilitate non-federal advice. How does this group determine what non-federal members get a vote and which do not?

A: Both Federal and non-federal members vote. Regional Panels are not members per statute and do not vote.

Q: What is the difference between ex-officio and regional panels?

A: Membership of the ANS Task Force is defined within Section 1201 of NANPCA. Regional Panels are mentioned in Section 1203, and are not described as members.

Q: Can non-federal members be added?

A: Yes, at the recommendation of the ANS Task Force co-chairs.  

Q: If state is chair of regional panel, could they be a member?

A: Yes. 

Q: What is advantage of a MOU, in addition to a charter?

A: The charter does not define relationship between the members.

Comment: The past ANS Task Force Interagency Agreements and MOU are signed by all member agencies, yet the charter is only signed by chairing agencies.  Updating past documents may benefit in reach and agency awareness of the ANS Task Force.

Comment: Rescinding and re-submitting new documents may be a distraction from the current work of the ANS Task Force, but a discussion we may want to re-visit later.

Q: Would other federal agencies be helped by creating new documents?

Comment: Having an agreement that would transfer funds could possibly be beneficial, but much of the funds are statutorily committed.

Comment: Agencies will still have to go through other mechanisms to transfer funds. A MOU would likely not change the ability to support the regional panels.

Comment: Communicating accomplishments is important, yet it unclear what work should be attributed to the ANS Task Force. Perhaps limiting reporting to accomplishments specifically addressed in the Strategic Plan would help to simplify things and better reflect the role of the ANS Task Force.

Comment: Many of the original documents of the ANS Task Force are being ignored or replaced by documents that do not have a strong connection to leadership. We a missing a relationship with leadership that may be able to help with the financial aspect.

Comment: The by-laws being developed may help with this issue.

Q: Who would be the signatories of the by-laws?

A: By-laws are generally adopted by the body; therefore, ANS Task Force member would be the signatories.

Q: Can other agencies review and sign the charter?

A: The charter is set up to be signed by the DOI Secretary.

Comment: It may be beneficial to have agency leadership sign ANS Task Force documents. There is also a need to defining roles and responsibilities between the members and panels of the ANS Task Force.

Comment: We will not vote today on this motion. However, it is critically important to continue discussions. (See action items on establishing an ad-hoc committee to review the draft bylaws and requesting input on the development of the next Report to Congress.

Discussion:  Member Updates

Written updates from the ANS Task Force members and regional panels were distributed prior to the meeting.  Attendees were offered the opportunity to ask questions about these updates. There were no questions or comments

Discussion: Regional Panel Recommendations

Western Regional Panel
  1.  In order to facilitate the stated goals of the ANSTF Strategic Plan, WRP recommends continued and additional funding for Regional Panels (Coordination), QZAP (Coordination & Prevention) and State/Inter-state Plans.

    Response: We recognize that Regional Panels provide essential coordination and work production for the Task Force at the Regional and local levels.  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will continue to support the operation of the regional panels as budgets allow. The Service continues to support the implementation of QZAP through the funding of the State/Interstate ANS Management Plans and through grant support for projects to control the spread of invasive mussels.   Funding for the State and Interstate ANS Management Plan Grant Program increased from $1M to $2M in FY17, and these increase level has been maintained for FY19. This year 43 States applied, each received approximately $46,000.

  2. The WRP recommends the following regarding the adoption and implementation of regulations pursuant to the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act:

    The U.S. EPA takes all available data and information into account to determine the best available technologies and management practices when adopting vessel incidental discharge regulations and does not default to existing standards simply because they are more expedient to implement.

    The U.S. EPA and USCG engage in meaningful and substantive consultation with states that provides an opportunity for governors to be directly involved in the crafting and implementation of vessel discharge standards.

    Response: The EPA and USCG have updates on their current work and efforts to better engage with the states. The Prevention subcommittee will also be considering these concerns as they evaluate the role of the ANS Task Force under VIDA. State and the panels are welcome to engage in these efforts.

  3. WRP recommends that ANSTF facilitate an update from the American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC) as to the status of the Technical Information Report (T-32) that was developed in collaboration between members of the boating industry and aquatic invasive species resource managers, aided by Service funds. The update should include deliverables developed with Service funds, next steps, potential to develop standards in support of AIS spread prevention, and how coordination between ABYC, the National Marine Manufacturers Association, the Water Sports Industry Association and the WRP’s Watercraft Inspection and Decontamination Committee will occur.

    Response: The Service received an update from ABYC prior to the meeting. Recent actives include hosted an AIS summit, supporting research used related to improving boating standards, creating industry-targeted campaigns, presenting at industry related events, and developing an online AIS course for industry. ABYC has agreed to provide an update at the next ANS Task Force meeting.

Update: Priorities for the Future Implementation of the QZAP for Western Waters

Elizabeth Brown stated the Western Regional Panel members and partners recently completed a Status Report for the Quagga Zebra Action Plan for Western Waters (QZAP) and the Building Consensus in the West Workgroup: Final Activity Report (2011-2019).  The purpose of QZAP is to provide a strategic regional set of measurable action items to inform decision-making and prevent the spread of invasive mussels in the Western US. The WRP is now considering developing a revised QZAP to guide future management priorities to stop the spread of invasive mussels in the West. They are calling the revision QZAP 2.0; it is not a new plan, but provides more specific action items and recommendations that align to the goals under the existing plan. The WRP has recommended that panel members recommend actions for consideration in the new plan that relate to capacity building, prevention, early detection monitoring, rapid response, control, research, and education and outreach. The goal is to have a draft by January 2020, and finalize the revision in October 2020. To participate in plan development, ANS Task Force members were requested to engage with WRP though their panel member. Feedback from ANS Task Force members was also requested on missing work elements, metrics, how agencies can contribute, and what work should be prioritized.

Q: Can you create a network of boat traffic?  Are you close to having data to do an analysis of cost effectiveness of prevention?

A: No, data is only available for areas with inspection stations.

Q: How much of funding is from ACOE?

A: QZAP grant was from USFWS and did not document all federal funding. The USFS also contributes a lot of funding. Currently only state funds are documents. .

Q: Is there an issue with people avoiding areas because of watercraft decontamination stations and going elsewhere?

A: We hear this anecdotally, but have not studied it.

Comment: Lake Tahoe tracks numbers annually since beginning inspections.  We have not noticed a decline in numbers.

Update: Government eDNA Working Group

Dr. Richard Lance, team lead for Conservation and Ecological Genetics with the US Army Engineer Research and Development Center’s Environmental Laboratory presented an overview of the work of the Government eDNA Working Group. The study, detection, and monitoring of environmental DNA (eDNA) in aquatic, terrestrial, and aerial systems is a rapidly growing field. Frequent advancement in capabilities for eDNA data collection, processing, analysis, and interpretation have characterized the field to date. The Government eDNA Working Group (GeDWG) was formed in May 2014 with the objectives of sharing best-practices, discussing technical and analytical innovations, and applying collective “wisdom” to technical and conceptual challenges. GeDWG is an informal group comprised primarily of researchers from numerous federal, state, provincial, tribal, and municipal agencies, and industry and universities. The group holds monthly teleconferences and annual eDNA Technical Exchange Workshops (eDTEWs).  The next eDTEW is scheduled for November 19-20, 2019 in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Q: How is one added to this group?

A: Send Richard Lancer an email and he will add you.

Q: USGS is working on data standards for NAS; we would like your input.

A: Yes, will provide.

Q: How are you communicating out? Are products generated?

A: Communication is informal and has been by word of mouth and through email. GeDWG advertises workshops on a list serve.

Q: What is the geographic breakdown of the group?

A: Not sure, but do have people spread from across the country. We would like to engage more with the Canadian group.

Q: Are you connected to the AFS genetics section? It could be a good place to get together.

A: I am not, some other members may be. 

Q: Regarding the concept of false negatives. There can be shipments of fish with eDNA of target species, but the target species are not in the shipment.  Has there been work to resolve this?  Is the resolution based on the amount of eDNA?

A: The eDNA is real, but may not correspond to a fish at that time. There is work on how fast DNA disappears – it can be a matter of hours, but sometimes longer. We need to do more analysis as all methods have shortcomings. There should be concern with false negatives.  We may be willing to tolerate more false positives to avoid false negatives.

Q: How do we tie technology to citizen science to get monitoring across the landscape?

A: Do not need much training to collect a sample, with the correct equipment.  They are using citizen science with eDNA in Britain.

Update: Genetic Biocontrol Workshop

Kelly Pennington, Minnesota DNR, provided an overview of the Genetic Biocontrol workshop hosted by the Minnesota DNR in June 2019. The workshop was help to explore issues related to genetic biocontrol of invasive species with partners and potentially affected interests. The general term “genetic biocontrol” may refer to a range of approaches to modify the genes or gene expression of an organism for the purpose of reducing populations, including genetic engineering, gene drives, gene silencing, and other methods. This type of control is being developed for several species including common carp, spotted wing drosophila, mosquitoes, mice, diamondback moth, nonnative Phragmites, and zebra mussels. The workshop used case studies for common carp, spotted wing drosophila, and nonnative Phragmites to initiate discussions on federal and state regulatory frameworks, public engagement, and next steps. To enhance participation at the workshop.  Attendees received a workbook that included suggested readings, key points from speakers, discussion questions. Meeting participants identified potential next steps for individuals and organizations interested in genetic biocontrol technologies for invasive species control. Key take-aways indicted that ANS Task Force may have in role in coordinating approaches to this issue by building information sharing and communication networks.

Q: Was there any consensus on when public outreach should begin?  Research community seems to believe it should be very early.

A: No consensus.  The workshop was to discuss issues and identify next steps, attendees did not try to reach consensus.

Q: Did the Workshop break out heritable and non-heritable technologies?

A: Somewhat, the non-native Phragmites technology example was not heritable.

Comment: The started a conversation in Michigan.  We looked at our authorities critically and proposed changes. We did a briefing paper across state agencies.  We are bringing this issue to the Great Lakes Panel.

Comment: There are some new technologies where gene drives turn off after a number of generations. It loses the promoter. Antidotes to restore the genotype can be created.

Comment: GeDWG put out a related technical note on this; contact Richard Lance if interested.

Comment: Explanation of how the USDA biocontrol group works.  The group reviews proposals or release of non-native biocontrol organisms and seeks USFWS consultation.

Meeting Summary

A list of final action items and decision items was discussed (see above). The next meeting was tentatively scheduled for the week of May 4 and will be hosted by the NEANS regional panel.  

Public Comments

Paul Zajicek, National Aquaculture Association: Zajicek attended first ANS Task Force meeting in 1990 and has found value in the group over the years. He encouraged the ANS Task Force to maintain openness and ability for public to attend.

The November 2019 ANS Task Force Meeting was adjourned.