On May 24-24, 2022, the Aquatic Nuisance Species (ANS) Task Force held a three-day virtual meeting. Action items are listed below, followed by a summary of the meeting.

Decisional Items

  • The ANS Task Force approved the “Revised Minnesota State ANS Management Plan.”

Action Items

The ANS Task Force assigned the following action items:

  • The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey, and Department of the Interior will consider recording a webinar presentation on the National Early Detection Rapid Response Framework that can be shared with the regional panels and other interested audiences.
  • The Executive Secretary will distribute the Framework for Determining the Need for an Aquatic Invasive Species Control and Management Plan to ANSTF members and regional panels. Comments on the will be due to the Control Subcommittee by July 15.
  • The Executive Secretary will work with the appropriate agencies to provide an update on activities related to stony coral tissue loss disease. A session on this topic will be included on the agenda for the Fall 2022 ANSTF meeting.
  • The Prevention Subcommittee will facilitate a discussion with appropriate agencies and the National Invasive Species Council to encourage the use and adoption of the guidelines to prevent AIS transport by wildland fire operations.
  • The Executive Secretary will hold a discussion with the regional panels and watercraft industry representatives to discuss the evolution of boat design and determine if the Boating Ad-Hoc Committee should be reestablished to update the design standards from the 2013 Technical Information Report and improve interactions between the watercraft industry and managing partner entities

Tuesday, May 24, 2022


Dave Miko (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) introduced himself, welcomed the attendees and thanked them for attending virtually. Miko reviewed the agenda, which was distributed to registered participants and posted on the ANS Task Force website. Topics on the agenda included informational updates related to the USGS Non-Indigenous Aquatic Species database, National Invasive Species Council Management Plan, U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, and the revised Minnesota State Management Plan. Other items on the agenda were presentations on ballast water management, the challenges of 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
management from eCommerce and climate change climate change
Climate change includes both global warming driven by human-induced emissions of greenhouse gases and the resulting large-scale shifts in weather patterns. Though there have been previous periods of climatic change, since the mid-20th century humans have had an unprecedented impact on Earth's climate system and caused change on a global scale.

Learn more about climate change
, and the range expansion of Prussian carp. The final day of the meeting focused on the recent successes and emerging issues experienced from the regional panels.

Debbie Lee (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ((NOAA) introduced herself. Lee recognized the ANS Task Force members, who volunteer their time from their regular jobs to move Task Force priorities forward, and the outstanding regional panel and subcommittee members who have also dedicated hours of personal time and expertise to ensure that the meeting action items and work plans are progressing.

Susan Pasko (USFWS, ANS Task Force Executive Secretary) introduced herself and went over meeting logistics. She also announced there would be a public comment period at the end of each day.


Miko announced that since this is a virtual meeting we would not ask individuals to introduce themselves. The list of participants can be viewed within Microsoft Teams, which will be downloaded and recorded in the meeting minutes. A roll call was taken of ANS Task Force membership. The complete list of attendees follows.



Adrienne Juby

Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe

Al Cofrancesco

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Alanna Keating

BoatUS Foundation

Amy Kretlow

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Amy McGovern

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Angela McMellen Brannigan

National Invasive Species Council

Angela Sokolowski

Missouri Department of Conservation

Ash Bullard

Auburn University

Barak Shemai

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Benjamin Ewoldt

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Brad Parsons

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

Bruce Johnson

Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

Carolina Bastidas

MIT Sea Grant

Carolyn Junemann

Department of Transportation - Maritime Administration

Carolyn Slaughter

American Public Power Association

Cesear Blanco

US Fish & Wildlife Service

Christine VanZomeren

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Cindy Tam

U.S. Geological Survey

Connor Bevan

American Sportfishing Association

Craig Martin

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Craig Watson

Tropical Aquaculture Laboratory

Dale McPherson

National Park Service

Dane Huinker

Wildlife Forever

Dave Miko

US Fish & Wildlife Service

Dave Cottle

U.S. Forest Service

David Reid

Great Lakes Seaway

Deborah Lee

National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration

Dennis Riecke

Mississippi Dept. of Wildlife, Fisheries & Parks

Dolores Savignano

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Don MacLean

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Doug Jensen

University of Minnesota Sea Grant

Duane Chapman

U.S. Geological Survey

Edna Stetzar

Delaware Department of Natural Resources

And Environmental Control

El Lower

Michigan Sea Grant

Elizabeth Brown

North American Invasive Species Management Association

Eric Fischer

Indiana Dept. of Natural Resources

Erika Jensen

Great Lakes Commission

Eugene Braig

Ohio State University

Greg Conover

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Greg Hitzroth

Illinois Natural History Survey; Illinois Indiana Sea Grant

Heather Desko

New Jersey Water Supply Authority

Hilary Smith

Department of the Interior/Office of the Secretary

Holly Eddinger

U.S. Forest Service

Ian Pfingsten

U.S. Geological Survey

James Ballard

Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission

Jim Straub

Massachusetts Department of Conservation & Recreation

Jennifer Riddle

Invasive Species Action Network

Jenny Carney

Smithsonian Environmental Research Center

Jeremy Crossland

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Jessica Marchant

Alabama Marine Resources Division

Jim Weakley

Lake Carriers' Association

Joe Kreiger

National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration

John Darling

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

John Morris

U.S. Coast Guard

John Navarro

Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources

John Wullschleger

National Park Service

Jolene Trujillo

U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

Jonathan Freedman

Cherokee Nation Technologies

Jonathan McKnight

Maryland Department of Natural Resources

Josh Jones

Pet Advocacy Network

Joyce Bolton

U.S. Department of Agriculture

Julie Holling

SC Dept. of Natural Resources

Justin Cutler

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Karen McDowell

San Francisco Estuary Partnership

Kate Gonzalez

DAR Aquatic Invasive Species

Kate Wyman-Grothem

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Kelly Pennington

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

Kim Bogenschutz

Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies

Leah Elwell

Invasive Species Action Network

Leah Harnish

American Waterways Operators

Leif Howard

University of Montana

Lisa  DeBruyckere

Creative Resource Strategies, LLC

Liz Lodman

Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation

Mark Lewandowski

Chesapeake Bay Program

Mark Minton

Smithsonian Environmental Research Center

Marshall Meyers

N. Marshall Meyer PLLC

Martha Volkoff

California Dept. of Fish & Wildlife

Matthew Neilson

U.S. Geological Survey

Matt Smith

Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry

Meg Modley

Lake Champlain Basin Program

Michele Tremblay

Northeast Aquatic Nuisance Species Regional Panel

Mike Feagan

Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources

Mike Ielmini

U.S. Forest Service

Mike Weimer

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Monica McGarrity

Texas Parks & Wildlife Department

Nick Torsky

Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Pat Conzemius

Pet Advocacy Network

Patrick Kocovsky

U.S. Geological Survey

Paul Zajicek

National Aquaculture Association

Peter Kingsley-Smith

South Carolina Department of Natural Resources

Phillip Andreozzi

USDA/Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

Phillip Matson

Flathead Lake Biological Station

Portia Sapp

Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

Quagga D Davis

Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission

Rick Boatner

Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife

Rochelle Sturtevant

Michigan Sea Grant

Roger Griffis

National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration

Ryan Portalatin

Bureau of Indian Affairs

Sam Chan

Oregon Sea Grant

Sandy Moore

Segrest Inc

Sarah Coney

Catskill Regional Invasive Species Partnership

Sarah LeSage

Michigan Dept. of Environmental Quality

Scott Miller

Bureau of Land Management

Scott Smith

North Carolina NC Division of Marine Fisheries

Sean Cross

Native American Fish & Wildlife Society

Sierra Stickney

SUNY Oneonta

Stas Burgiel

National Invasive Species Council

Stephanie Miller

Bureau of Land Management

Steven Pearson

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

Su Jewell

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Susan Pasko

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Tammy Davis

Alaska Department of Fish & Game

Tanya Brothen

Department of State

Ted Grosholz

University of California at Davis

Teresa Lewis

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Theresa Thom

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Tim Campbell

Univ. of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute

Tom Woolf

Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks

Toney Ott

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Tracey Mehan

American Waterways Operators

Tristan Carette Myers

Washington State Department of Agriculture

Wes Daniel

U.S. Geological Survey

Adoption of Agenda, Approval of Minutes, Status of Action Items

There was a motion to adopt the agenda, and it was seconded.  There was no discussion. The agenda was approved. 

Lee called for approval of the minutes from the November 2021 meeting. They were distributed to all members electronically and posted on the website. There was a motion to approve the minutes, and a second. There was no discussion. The minutes were approved.

Susan Pasko reviewed the status of the Action Items from the last meeting, listed below.

  1. The Control, Prevention, Outreach, and Research Subcommittees will consult with the NEANS Panel to determine if the Subcommittees can assist with the response efforts under the Connecticut River Hydrilla Control Project Five-Year Management Plan.

    Status: Complete / In progress: Each subcommittee has met with NEANS Panel representatives and identified potential actions where the subcommittee can assist. NEANS Panel representatives will stay engaged with the subcommittee to provide information to assist these efforts.
  2. The Executive Secretary will coordinate with the EDRR subcommittee and the regional panels to evaluate the Experts Database and develop a recommendation for its modification and/or continuation.

    Status: Complete / In progress: The EDRR subcommittee reviewed and discussed the Experts Database. There was consensus that the Database should continue, but be expanded and revised to increase its utility.  It is proposed that maintaining the database will be a standing work element for the subcommittee, reaching out the panels on an annual basis to help verify contacts.  The updated database will have enhanced search features and expanded content to include taxonomic, economic, control, and other expertise that could be of use to AIS management.
  3. The Prevention and Outreach Subcommittees will develop and implement a communications and engagement strategy with eCommerce platforms to limit sale and distribution of AIS by on-line retailers.

    Status: In progress: Beginning discussions have occurred within subcommittees. Speakers on eCommerce were invited to speak at this meeting to better understand the current efforts to mitigate this path way, ongoing challenges, and potential areas where the Prevention and Outreach Subcommittees can engage.
  4. The Control Subcommittee will coordinate with the ANSTF Co-Chairs for workgroups tasked to update or develop species management plans.

    Status: Complete / In progress: The Subcommittee has developed a recommendation for how to 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
    workgroups tasked with developing or updating species plans. This will be presented in there subcommittee update on May 25, 2022. 
  5. Subcommittees will refine their work plans and resubmit them to the ANS Task Force by December 17. ANS Task Force members and panels will provide comments by January 14.

    Status: Complete: Refined work plans were distributed to the ANS Task Force. All comments received were discussed and addressed by the subcommittees.

Presentation: Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database

Wesley Daniel, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Nonindigenous Aquatic Species (NAS) Program Lead, provided an update highlighting recent non-native species introductions reported to the NAS, and overview of recent enhancements to the NAS Database including the addition of eDNA to the NAS Database, new disease and pathogen database, inclusion of Canadian data, and rejuvenation of the database. The database currently tracks 1374, that is an increase of 24 species from the last time Wes reported to the Task Force in November 2021.

Overall, there were 106 alerts, all verified by USGS scientists. Alerts represented 64 different species; 18 new to a county, 71 new to drainage, 14 new to a state, and two brand new to the U.S.  Most new alerts occurred in Texas, followed by Florida and Arizona. Hydrilla was found for the first time outside the Erie Canal. Hydrilla had been in the Erie Canal since about 2012, this is a new downstream occurrence. Murray cod, a large predatory fish from Australia was found in Louisiana. Quagga mussels were detected in Texas for first time. This is a giant jump for the quagga mussel and something that should be reviewed and critically evaluated about how this got here. Red swamp crayfish were found in many locations, representing potential movement through trade. New occurrences of yellow floating heart have been found in Massachusetts, California, Maryland, Ohio, Vermont, and Minnesota.

New enhancements include the addition of eDNA, the infrastructure is being developed to include this data. Also state managed species lists are in development. The USGS contacted each state AIS coordinator to review a list that was developed from reviewing state plans, invasive species profiles, and other information from individual states.  The USGS asked the states to review the list, add species, to make sure they represent all species managed and of concern. The USGS is also working directly with EDDMapS and iMaps invasives to better share data.  The new process will utilize an overlay system to reduce duplication. The USGS ended the presentation with a call for help to identify gaps in authority that have led to introduction of aquatic invasive species. The USGS would like to talk with individual agencies to discuss what gaps have been identified and to make sure all gas have been captured. An email on this topic will be coming from Wes to members of this committee

Update: National Invasive Species Council Work Plan

Stas Burgiel, Executive Director of the National Invasive Species Council (NISC), provided an update on the FY2022 Annual Work Plan with a focus on areas of overlapping interest for the ANS Task Force. There have been some changes and areas where NISC is continuing past activities such as climate change, fire, EDRR, and eDNA.  Climate change will be included in the next Work Plan, efforts will include a community of practice of federal experts and practitioners to identify activities where NISC can provide value, identify areas that federal agencies might be active, and identify where there are gaps. The output for the disaster preparedness and response area is to compile tools and resources that can help identify and mitigate risks associated with the potential introduction and spread of invasive species from natural disaster and extreme weather events. In the area of wildland fire and invasive species, invasive plants have been a primary focus, particularly grasses. NISC recognizes that there are ties to aquatic invasive species, for example, where there might be movement of species from contaminated water bodies used for fire control. NISC has been working on EDRR for several years. Outputs that are progressing include a paper on federal agency roles in rapid response, a paper on the criteria and considerations for development of a rapid response fund, and coordinating a workgroup focused on aquatic invasive species at ports of entry. NISC’s work plan also focused on information management to collate different types of programs and initiatives that federal agencies are undertaking, understanding what data is available, and how that data can be shared. A technical report was published in 2021, followed by a white paper that distilled the main points of the paper for federal agency context. Finally, NISC has put out nominations for its renewed Invasive Species Advisory Committee. NISC anticipates an announcement of the next ISAC class in late summer, with planning for an early fall meeting.

Update: Department of the Interior Initiatives

Hilary Smith, Senior Advisor for the Department of the Interior, provided an update on select initiatives underway at the Department of the Interior (DOI).  Congress proposed $156 million for DOI to manage infrastructure species this year, about $5 million greater than the amount in FY 21.  There was also a $1 million increase to the Bureau of Indian Affairs invasive species award program to tribes, $2.6 million increase to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Refuge System to support strike times, and a $2 million dollar increase to the National Park Service for work on zebra mussels.

The DOI invasive species strategic plan is a five year plan that started last year, and touches on five different goals, including collaboration, partnerships and leveraging joint investments, prevention both into the United States and secondary spread, control in area of high likelihood of success, and advancing data management. Outside of the work being under taken at the DOI, each bureau is stepping down and implementing the strategic plan based on their mission and authorities. There's also been a lot of emphasis on coordinate through the DOI Task Force to provide recommendations on implementation of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Bipartisan Infrastructure Law
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) is a once-in-a-generation investment in the nation’s infrastructure and economic competitiveness. We were directly appropriated $455 million over five years in BIL funds for programs related to the President’s America the Beautiful initiative.

Learn more about Bipartisan Infrastructure Law

A new effort called 3 in 3 for the WIN, advances three invasive species initiatives in the next three years: wild fire and invasive species, islands and invasive species, and the national early detection and rapid response framework. There areas were identified as those with strong federal, support, strong foundations of programmatic work and actionable science, and opportunities for near term gains.

DOI is also coordinating in other areas of importance, such as developing an interagency agreement to support the watercraft inspection and decontamination training and developing a tracking system to report out on our contributions to the Quagga Zebra Action Plan. The BIL is an opportunity to infuse significant resources into invasive species management. The BIL language allows for investments in invasive species detection, prevention, and eradication by providing resources to facilitate detection at points of entry and awarding grants for eradication of invasive species. DOI formed an ecosystem restoration work group responsible for putting forward a process and recommendations for implementing the BIL funding.

Subgroups were formed to provide specific recommendations based on the scope of the activities. The DOI Invasive Species Task Force composed of the national program leads from our bureaus and offices, served as the subgroup for the invasive species activity.  Five priorities were recommended: prevent spread of invasive species in the United States; strengthen and coordinate a national framework; implement eradication projects on island ecosystems and other high risk and vulnerable areas; support states, tribes, to build capacity and undertake strategic prevention; and invest in at‑risk ecosystems and other priority areas to advance strategic prevention and eradication projects.  Of the 31 selected projects for FY 22, some have multiple components. For example the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service posed a notice of funding opportunity to promote landscape level prevention levels. There is also a set of investments to implement foundational components of a national early detection and rapid response framework, eradicate invasive mosquitoes to help prevent the spread of malaria, and administer invasive species award or grant programs to tribes and territories. DOI is still preparing guidance on processes and selection criteria for FY 23 and beyond.  DOI is thrilled to put forward a strategic body of work that advances work not only at national level, but also regional and site level.

Presentation: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Programs and Authorities

In the next presentation Jeremy Crossland and Christine Vanzomeren highlighted the current priories and authorities within the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Aquatic Plant Control Research Program, Aquatic Nuisance Species Research Program, and the Removal of Aquatic Growths program. Jeremy gave a history for the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1958 and amendments through 1999. Each amendment changed the scope of work for USACE. In 2014 an amendment added the Columbia River Basin; additional basins were added in 2016, 2018, and 2020. Planning documents have been development, or are in development, to cost share with work with states. USACE is also developing an MOU with Canada to coordinate work across the border. Contaminated watercraft is handled differently by state, many boats are inspected and decontaminated, and others may be withheld from the water until deemed safe. USACE is assisting states with monitoring to prevent the new establishments in invasive species that are being moved across the country potentially on boats or boat trailers.

The Aquatic Plant Control Research Program focuses on chemical control and management strategies. There are a number of target plants including hydrilla, flowering rush, and yellow floating heart, Examples were provided of research related to these plants species including herbicide application and biologic control. The Aquatic Nuisance Species Research Program has been authorized for a number of years, it started as the zebra mussel research program and has expanded to other aquatic nuisance species. This research includes looking at status of invasive carp populations specific to USACE waters to develop management recommendations for carp containment and control. Research on harmful algal blooms was authorized in 2018 to start a five year demonstration program for the early detection, prevention, and management of harmful algal blooms. Current work includes study of over wintering cells, silencing agents, toxin detection, and inactivating harmful algal bloom biomass and toxins. 

Approval: Revised Minnesota State ANS Management Plan

Don MacLean, the coordinator for the State and Interstate ANS Management Plans grant program, provided a brief overview of the revised Minnesota ANS Management Plan and its developmental process. The plan was provided in the member meeting materials. Don commended the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for their hard work and recommended approval of the plan.

Decision: A motion for approval was made and seconded. There was no further discussion; all were in favor: The Minnesota ANS Management Plan was approved.

Update: Early Detection Rapid Response Subcommittee Progress Report

Wes Daniel, U.S. Geological Survey, provided an overview of the work of the Early Detection Rapid Response (EDRR) Subcommittee.  To build capacity within the NAS database, a survey is in review and a stakeholder webinar is planned for this Fall. A draft report is expected by Winter of FY23. A survey of stakeholders revealed a need for rapid response training; accordingly, the subcommittee decided to focus upon creating a rapid response template and checklist and expects to have a draft by Fall. There are numerous efforts to develop watch lists based on horizon scans, a few have been completed or near completion, including the USGS's national vertebrates in trade scan and regional transportation horizon scans. The subcommittee is also developing decision tools that translate patterns of positive eDNA detections into risk profiles for interpretation. The subcommittee is recommending to make the experts database a standing work element for the EDRR subcommittee, with the goal to maintain and update the list of experts within the database.

Presentation: EDRR Framework Discussion

Craig Martin (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service), Cindy Tam, (U.S. Geological Survey), and Hilary Smith, (DOI) provided an overview of the National Early Detection Rapid Response (EDRR) Framework. Craig Martin provided an overview of the invasion curve, pointing out that action must be taken to quickly detect and intercept nonnative species at points of entry. There has been a number of plans, frameworks, and papers that provide a foundation of the framework. That framework prioritizes what species to look for and where on the landscape to look, and utilizes tools that will allow detection of invasions early in the invasion process. Detections are followed by identification, reporting, risk feasibility screening, and response measures. There are tremendous opportunities within BIL to implement the national EDRR framework.

Cindy Tam described USGS-led projects that are starting this year to support the national EDRR framework.  Leaders of each project will develop a stakeholder collaboration plan and we will be monitoring metrics on the success of their stakeholder integration efforts.  Projects include horizon scans that will produce prioritized lists of potential invasive species, creation of a hot spot analysis tool, developing forensic diagnostics to detect invasive species at points of entry, initiating a genetic material repository, development of  a web‑ based tool for materials related to eDNA detection, development of automated or robotic eDNA collection devices, and building a national EDRR information system to be used as a single source for invasive species occurrence data, monitoring, collection, integration and long‑ term data storage. All of these projects are moving forward this year, USGS is seeking involvement to help ensure that these efforts result in products that will meet national resource management scientists and other decision‑ maker needs.

Q: Would you look at running the EDRR Framework as an interagency program?

A: There is a variety of opportunities, we've got to be creative in how we consider opportunities to support the framework in the long‑ term but at some level, it's going to have to be picked up by agencies through the President's budget, and ultimately appropriated by Congress.

Q: Will the eDNA work include marine species?

A: What's being funded is capability. Advisory groups will be established to determine what species to prioritize.

Q:  Can this presentation be shared with the regional panels.

A: Yes. (See Action Item)

Q: There is growing enthusiasm for eDNA, how will false positives be addressed? Agencies should consider beta testing this approach.

A: An eDNA communication plan is being developed. Baseline data and QA/QC control will be needed to understand how to interpret positive eDNA findings. The NISC has also recently published a technical paper that address these issues.

Update: Outreach Subcommittee Progress Report

Tim Campbell, Wisconsin Sea Grant, provided an overview of the work of the Outreach Subcommittee. Last summer a request for proposals (RFP) was issued for an outreach assessment to assess waterway user awareness and behaviors of based off the Task Force recreational guidelines. That RFP was awarded and the subcommittee has been working with the contractor to develop survey tools. Results and a technical report are expected this summer. The subcommittee has also started an AIS community of practice to create a forum for those involved in outreach to share ideas and learn from one another. Discussions have included influencer marketing, social media, and website design. The subcommittee also continues to work on collecting outreach materials and template to be added to the Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers web portal.

Presentation: Alien Language: Reflections on the Rhetoric of Invasion Biology

El Lower, Michigan Sea Grant, presented on the key aspects of communicating aquatic ecology to fellow researchers and the public, highlighting some of the current language issues in invasion biology and presenting some creative and more inclusive alternatives. An emerging theme is the need to take a closer look at how species are named. Cultural biases are reflected by and sometimes reinforced by science.  Across many different taxa there are a number of unfortunate common names that have racist, xenophobic, or other troubling connotations. A recent success story is the recent renaming of what's now known as the spongy moth. The ESA's Better Common Names project seeks to identify and change other names that might be hindering inclusive science communication. Place‑ based names can also be problematic, particularly when the species in question is in another part of the world.  Many people don't know that Asian carp are four separate species of fish.  Referring to this group of species as Asian carp may not be a useful descriptor considering that common carp and other introduces species are native to parts of Eurasia.  These has been encouragement to refer to them as invasive carp. A number of recent publications by members of the American Fishery Society and others are beginning to advocate for change in the names that we use to refer to invasive species.

Metaphors are an essential part of how we communicate and conduct scientific research.  We use analogies and metaphors to communicate findings.  The careful use of metaphor can reveal insight and explain complex research, the careless use can cause errors lead to public misunderstandings and reinforce stereotypes and messages that undermine inclusiveness in the field. It's important to think about metaphors we use in science as they shape the practice of science itself and invasion biology. Invasion itself is a military term, this language can be compelling. There are a number of issues with leaning heavily on military metaphors, this framing of good versus evil assigns a moral value. Heavy use of military metaphor cans damage morale.  If you're in a war and not winning, you're losing.  Recent research has shown that this framework led to high rates of job dissatisfaction and burnout, which is understandable if you feel like you're going to work every day to fight a battle you can't win.

Nativist metaphors can come across as xenophobic or racist.  Even when your intentions are good, it's easy to see how nativist rhetoric can backfire.  If we're going to try to avoid using them, it's important to have alternatives. The team behind the Great Lakes based tribal adaptation menu use non-local rather than invaders to describe species which aren't originally from North America. This concept emphasizes that species that are not local does not imply they are harmful. A stakeholder needs assessment was conducted to understand how K‑ 12 teachers and educators helped them meet their goals for Great Lakes literacy.  One of the metaphors referred to invasive species as ecological bullies. The bullying metaphor isn't perfect, but it does present a reasonable alternative to more common rhetoric about evil foreign species taking over our home.  This process of work‑shopping language is ongoing and pushing us to think of new and different metaphors to use.  At the end of the day the more metaphors we have in our tool kit, the better we can frame our messages.  It can give our fellow scientists and general public more ways to understand the work we do.

Q: How would you deal with this with some of the legislation now with the terminologies in legislation?  And also would this also carry over to native plants, such as poison ivy, some of the native plant species that have terms that are derogatory?

A: Language written into legislation may be more difficult to change. If names are not changeable in certain places, focus on names in academic papers or outreach materials.  It may be beneficial to talk with people who are more familiar with the legislative process.

Public Comment

An opportunity was provided for public comments.  There were no public comments.

Adjourn Day 1

May 25, 2022


The group was welcomed by Debbie Lee, who asked any ANS Task Force members not present on Day 1 to introduce themselves.

Update: Prevention Subcommittee Progress Report

James Ballard from the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission provided an update on the Prevention Subcommittee work plan items, including:

  • Pathways Risk Assessment evaluation: requires a literature review as a foundation step to this assessment, advancement of this work element will depend on the availability of staff time and funding to complete the literature review.
  • Organisms in trade data:
    • USFWS is working with law enforcement staff and formed a team to explore ways to get the data off invoices and into usable formats. The Office of Law Enforcement has a new software that may be able to accomplish this task, they are running tests on that software to see if it will work as expected. 
    • USGS and USFWS have nearly completed a global horizon scan on vertebrate organisms coming into the U.S.
  • Gaps in Prevention –The University of Florida was funded to complete this project and it is anticipated to be completed this summer.
  • Ad-Hoc Committee on ANSTF Roles and responsibilities under VIDA:
    • The subcommittee is awaiting EPA/USCG to compete work on the new standards
  • Sea Plane Risk Assessment: Phase one funding has been awarded. The notice of funding opportunity for phase two was posted and closes on August 3, 2022.
  • Organisms is Trade Hitchhikers: A new workgroup has been formed in response to some issues regarding contaminants with aquatic shipments within the U.S. This group met several times and have identified objectives they want to focus on, including producing and maintaining a master list of prohibited species as well as a master list of regulatory contacts at the federal, tribal and state levels as part of the Experts Database.

Presentation: Call Before You Haul Program

Lisa DeBruyckere, President of Creative Resource Strategies, provided an overview of the Call Before You Haul program launched by the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission. There was been many efforts to keep invasive mussels out of the Pacific Northwest along with several studies to investigate where infested watercraft come from that are intercepted at watercraft inspection and decontamination stations. They found that most boats entering the Pacific Northwest come from the Great Lake States and the lover Colorado region, with several being transported by commercial hauling companies.  This was an opportunity to address this issue at a national level. A 24-7 toll-free number was established for commercial and other watercraft haulers to call before transporting watercraft to Columbia River Basin states. The caller provides information about the source and destination of the watercraft and states along the transport route are notified that the watercraft is being transported. The destination state, or province, then contacts the hauler to obtain additional information or make arrangements for the watercraft to be inspected and decontaminated if needed. Information on this service was shared with state highway and transportation officials, invasive species coordinators, boat hauling companies, and others. Currently focus on promoting and sharing information in priority states, and then expand the program to Canada.

Q: What role does the U.S. Department of Transportation to comply with the movement of invasive species?

A: This is an outreach program, it's really not about mandating anything, and we wanted to see what we could do at very low cost and seeing how much cooperation that we get voluntarily.

Q: Have National Marine Manufacturers Association or other boating interests engaged with you on this program? How are you measuring success?

A: Yes. We're assessing our success is we're looking at the number of infested boats that are coming into the West this year and over the next several years. This is not a program that we're going to be able to assess in one year because many of these people buy annual permits and purchase them for this year before the start of this program.

Presentation: Ballast Water Management; Implementation of Vessel Incidental Discharge Act

John Morris, U.S. Coast Guard, presented on the U.S Coast Guard’s ballast water management program. Last year the U.S. Coast Guard and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launched an enhanced program on a variety of regulatory requirements.  They had a targeted effort at ballast water regulations and issued nearly double the deficiencies for noncompliance over the 2020 numbers.  They also found in a three month period that 56% of the ships surveyed used a Coast Guard type approved ballast water management system, which continues to show the positive trends of the Coast Guard's type approval program. The majority of deficiencies dealt with inoperable systems, deficient ballast water management plans, and reporting practices to the National Ballast Information Clearinghouse. The Coast Guard also saw a trend of vessels reporting their inoperable systems prior to approval and a 60% reduction in the number of discharges of noncompliant ballast water into waters of the U.S.

Under VIDA, the EPA is required to develop national stands of performance, they expect to publish standards by the end of this calendar year. In parallel, the Coast Guard is working with EPA on their discharges and also our implementing requirements for the compliance and enforcement of those standards in a separate Coast Guard rule making, which is due under the statute two years after EPA publishes its final rule. Until both of those agencies final rules are published, the EPA vessel general permit and the current Coast Guard rules stay in effect. Other VIDA activities include publication of a final policy letter on evaluating alternate test methods where companies can submit viability testing methods to the Coast Guard. This is a change from the existing requirement that no living organisms beyond the discharge standard are allowed and now that this final policy letter on viability of organisms has been published, proposals on alternate test methods are expected. The Coast Guard has also drafted the first of a series of annual reports to Congress on the ballast water management program and the impacts of ballast water on waters of the U.S.  The first report, which covers the first four years is currently with our department for review and the next report is being drafted to cover the FY 2020 and 2021 years of activities.

Presentation: Overview of the third Great Lakes Briefs on Invasive Organisms in Commerce (GL BIOTIC) Biotic Symposium

Greg Hitzroth from the Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant summarized the discussion that occurred during a symposium on Organisms in Trade (OIT) to identify information sharing and coordination opportunities between law enforcement and aquatic invasive species managers. The OIT committee was convened by the Great Lakes Panel in March of 2020. The first OIT symposium was held in 2014 and had a broad focus, the second was in 2018 and focused on pet surrender events, the recent 2021 symposium focused on improved coordination and information sharing with law enforcement. Topics covered during the 2021 symposium included prioritizing OIT pathway, enforcement, training sessions, and case studies of investigations. Each day case studies were presented around a certain topic followed by facilitated breakout discussion groups. The case studies involved transport of life invasive carp, intercepting an international of red swamp crayfish, pet crayfish distributions, law enforcement coordination between Illinois and Michigan, and overcoming enforcement obstacles of the pet trade in Ohio. The results from day one of the symposium was to improve outreach and management support for law enforcement by formalizing communication protocols and breaking down silos within agencies and between OIT and law enforcement. 

Day two of the symposium focused on tools and knowledge to detect OIT species.  The case studies included development of tools and training, handbook for law enforcement, compliance under Ontario's Invasive Species Act, detection technology, eDNA tools, and gaps in authority.  Discussion questions focused confirming identifications and tools to make enforcement easier. The results were that are more and better tools are needed for AIS identification as well as internal and external communication.

Day three focused on zebra mussels and Moss balls. Discussion focused on state-specific communication channels. The results identified a need to formalize communications between law enforcement and AIS managers, understand how current staff fit into communication and response protocols,  explore structures for AIS management in the Great Lakes, and formalize law enforcement plans to identify gaps in authority. A summary document of the entire symposium is in development and will be distributed once complete.

Discussion: eCommerce and Invasive Species

Erika Jensen, Executive Director of the Great Lakes Commission, described Great Lakes Detector of Invasive Aquatics in Trade (GLDIATR), a project to develop and deploy web-based software to collect and analyze information about how many and what types of aquatic invasive species (AIS) of concern to the Great Lakes basin are available for sale on the Internet. This project has been around for around 10 years and started with a grant from EPA as part of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative in 2012. Work is primarily focused on aquatic species that are of concern to the Great Lakes region, but technology and approach can be adapted to other regions or other types of species. Phase one of the project identified over 200 unique websites and individual sellers, with more than 60% found to be based in the U.S. Following the success of GLDIATR, a second phase was started to continue and improve upon this work. GLDIATR Phase two also involved targeted outreach to educate sellers about the risks of the species that they are selling and actions they can take to help ensure species don't reach the Great Lakes region. In recent years it has become difficult to maintain GLDIATR as many pieces were breaking or becoming outdated. There are now services that offer web crawling, such services were evaluated to see if they could serve the same function as GLDIATR in a cost effective and effective way. As a result, two contracted web scraper services were selected to perform this work and resulted in the identification of 299 sellers. This included U.S. and Canadian websites in over 40 jurisdictions. Only about 130 of the total sellers were able to be reached. Outreach is challenged as sellers through Amazon or Ebay are difficult to contact. Changed was evaluated for the 71 seller that were able to be reached. Eight sellers were no longer selling the species; 63 of them were either still selling the species, but added shipping restrictions or were selling a different species on the list of concern.  The larger marketplaces sites have policies related to the sale of live organisms, plants or animals.  This is an opportunity to encourage improvements to their policies. The final report on Phase Two is complete and is posted on the Great Lakes Commission website.

Tristan Carette-Meyers, Washington State Department of Agriculture (WA DOA), presented on enforcement of Washington State’s Plant Quarantines. Since the Fall of 2020, the Washington State Department of Agriculture’s Plant Services have had a program of enforcing Washington State’s Plant quarantines on online sales platforms and independent sales sites. Websites are searched manually and outreach is targeted to sellers of species of concern. Communication focuses on educating sellers what species are restricted from being sold or transported. WA DOA contacted 1,361 individual sellers, with 2,126 potential warranty violations. The success rate to correct the violations is about 51%. WA DOA also contacted Amazon’s and EBay’s regulatory group and the site was able to established filters. Sellers can format the name or descriptions so that the filter do not work, but the filter is improving over time. Etsy cancelled listings of restricted species at first, resulting in numerous emails in inquiring why listings were removed. Now contact individual Etsy sellers directly and ask not to sell restricted species in Washington State. The goal now is to create a shareable standard operating procedure for this work and apply it to other states.

The last speaker of the session was Heather Malone from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Heather provided an overview of the USDA Smuggling Interdiction and Trade compliance (SITC) e-Commerce Team. SITC’s mission is to prevent unlawful entry introduction and distribution of prohibited agriculture commodities. SITC's responsibilities include collaborating with other Federal or State agencies and identifying potential pathways for snuggled prohibited or noncompliant commodities. The SITC program is funded using agriculture warranty inspection user fees. SITC focuses on noncompliant or prohibited commodities observed in common eCommerce or ports of entry. The eCommerce team is composed of four analysts that monitor, target, and identify sales.  These analysts develop and maintain relationships with the large eCommerce platforms to help vendors gain compliance and shut down prohibited sales into the country and shut down the pathways. Traces are initiated to determine how products enter the country. SITC engages in numerous activities to verify compliance, including visiting warehouse locations and international mail courier facilities.

Commodities are split into three tiers, the riskiest are the top priorities - products snuggled into the U.S. The second tier are products that require a post entry warranty or items that require a permit.  Our third tier are products that require a certificate or might be CITES.  Focus has been on the big three eCommerce companies: Etsy, Amazon and eBay. SITC developed relationships with these companies and helped them become compliant and restriction the sale of regulated products. Facebook is another big platform, a lot of groups advertise and people purchase products. SITC has also observed an increase in mobile apps.  Typically there will be a pick up and drop off location, the seller will use mail or express courier to ship the products, which are hard to track down.  Providing outreach to internal and external stakeholders is useful.  Outreach includes attending industry meetings and issuing letters to provide outreach to sellers.  The results are eliminating sale and distribution of smuggled imports and closing pathways.

Update: Control Subcommittee Progress Report

Kim Bogenschutz, the Invasive Species Committee chair of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, provided an overview of the work of the Control Subcommittee. The subcommittee has completed a draft decision‑ making process for species management plans. This will be bundled together with the control plan development process and the control plan content guidance previously approved by the Task Force. The process is divided into three phases that will determine if a control plan is needed for a particular species. Comments on the process are requested from Task Force members by July 15, 2022 (Action Item).

Five existing control plans were identified as needing revision by the subcommittee. Workgroups have been formed to revise the European Green crab and New Zealand mudsnail plans. The subcommittee is still looking for leads to revise the ruffe, lionfish, and snakehead plans.  The Control and Research subcommittee met to discuss who to crosswalk the gaps in control identified into the Research Priorities list. These control gaps will be included in the tracking process led by the Research subcommittee.

Presentation: European Green Crab – West Coast Activities and Revised Plan

Ted Grosholz, University of California, Davis, followed with an update on the Management Plan for the European Green Crab. The European green crab has been a successful invader. It invaded the East Coast several years ago, but the West Coast more recently. The crab established in San Francisco Bay around 1989, made its way up the West coast, and is currently about 200 miles south of Alaska.  In 2021, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) together with tribal co‑ managers have found dramatic increases on the outer coast of Washington. These abundances are a serious threat to the environment, economy, and human well‑ being. The Washington governor issued an emergency proclamation and emergency funding earlier this year.  There has been extensive EDRR and trapping in recent years and it expected to increase in the next year. Washington DFW is training staff, establishing contracts, developing a statewide management structure, and working with tribal and federal entities. Alaska Department of Fish and Game is conducting green crab monitoring and are developing a rapid response plan that will need to be incorporated soon. In the Northeast, green crabs have become increasingly problematic, especially in Maine as they threaten the shellfish industry. Since Canada is also experiencing impacts, management plans need to include cross boundary work.

The revised plan will update information on distribution and impacts as well as include actions for prevention, forecasting, early detection, rapid response, eradication, control, and mitigation.

Presentation: Implementation of the Invasive Carp National Plan:  Update and Population Assessment Approach

Amy McGovern, the USFWS invasive carp national lead, provided an overview of the collaborative development and implementation of an invasive carp population assessment strategy and how it will inform future management actions. Fiscal Year 2022 was the third year that implementation of the national invasive carp plan was supported at a level of 25.2 million. Funds are being used to coordinate implementation of the plan and support state agencies and other partners throughout the six partnerships of the Mississippi basin. The appropriation also supports the capacity of the USFWS to conduct field work. There has been significant progress on several key efforts related to management of invasive carp including technology testing, deterrence, and genomic surveillance.  There's more work going on now than ever before to monitor and assess populations of invasive carp in different areas and gather important data on life histories and demographics of invasive carp.  A team was established to develop a population assessment approach across the Mississippi Basin. The primary purpose of the population assessment is to answer common questions coming from sub basin partnerships and Congress. Two sub‑work groups were formed, one to focus on sampling approaches and other is focused on data and analysis. This is an effort that will be closely assessed and refined over time based on partner input and the results of initial efforts.

Presentation: An ounce of prevention: addressing the potential expansion of Prussian Carp

Patrick Kočovský, U.S. Geological Survey, outlined the history of Prussian Carp in North America, risks of expansion, and thoughts on next steps to further reduce risk of spread into the U.S. and Mexico. The native range of Prussian carp is uncertain and, like many species, was transferred for aquaculture and fishing opportunities. Prussian carp are considered one of the most damaging invasive fish species globally. The first records of Prussian carp in North America come from the year 2000. By 2014, Prussian carp were detected in 18 different bodies of water in three different watersheds that represent two separate basin transfers.

Prussian carp have many of the characteristics of high invasiveness, they have a moderately long life span, highly fecundity, can reproduce multiple times annually, and mature in as little as one year.  Particularly problematic is that they do not need to have their eggs fertilized by a male of the species. It's not uncommon for Prussian carp to be 75% or more female and triploid.  They forage in at least three different tropic levels and can tolerate low oxygen conditions. In 2016, Prussian carp was listed as an injurious species.   T

A total of 67 potential connections between watersheds in Canada and the U.S have been identified that could result in the transfer of fish from one basin to other. Next steps to prevent the expansion of Prussian carp into the U.S. are to assess alternatives for mitigating the risk at the identified watershed connections.  A dedicated research program is needed to understand the risks and potential mitigation measures.

Q: What is it typical mature size for Prussian carp

A: Maybe 300 to 400 millimeters. Whenever a fish population becomes very large, resources become limited and fish may not get that big, likely in the 150 to 200 millimeter range, maybe even smaller.

Q: Since this is a transboundary issue, is it being addressed in a transboundary context?

A: That's the next step.  This information will be presented to the trilateral committee which includes Canadian, U.S. and Mexican representatives.

Update: Research Subcommittee Progress Report

Susan Pasko, USFWS, provided an update on the work of the Research Subcommittee. The National Research Priorities List was approved at the last Task Force meeting, since that time the subcommittee has focused on efforts needed to track and promote the list. The subcommittee is pursuing a communications plan to promote the priories list, which includes a letter to agency leadership and partners, social media, a blog, and a peer reviewed paper. The subcommittee hopes to create tools and messages that agencies can use to help inform the scientific community about the priorities.  The subcommittee is also compiling contacts for agencies, universities, organizations, other who are conducting research in aquatic invasive species. These contacts will be sent the research priorities list, but also encouraged to participate in research tracking efforts. This information will be used to show progress of the priorities as well as to develop a research clearinghouse that would help researchers connect with one another, build network and partnerships, and allow agencies to better target requests for proposals or other funding opportunities.

The research priories list will be updated on an annual basis. It is possible that the priories may not shift drastically from year to year, but an annual review will provide an opportunity to document emerging issues and research accomplishments and needs.  The subcommittee will also need to develop criteria to determine when a priority has progressed enough that it can be removed from the National Priorities List. 

Presentation: NOAA’s Climate Ecosystems and Fisheries Initiative: Climate-Informed Advice for Resilience Resources and Communities

Roger Griffis, a marine ecologist for the National Marine Fisheries Service will provide an overview of NOAA’s Climate, Ecosystems, and Fisheries Initiative (CEFI). Climate change is changing habitat, shifting distributions of species, introducing of new and novel species, changing abundance of resources, and changing uses of the ecosystems. Action is needed now for effective response.  Understand of what is changing and why is needed to project change. That is the foundation for development of the CEFI. There are four key needs to move forward for climate‑ ready decision‑ making. One is reliable delivery of robust forecasts, predictions, and projections. We do not have reliable delivery of robust ocean forecasts or projections, that's a key item for the CEFI. The second key need is forecasts into ecosystem scenarios and ultimately management advice. The third need is management capacity to use scientific information and advice in decision‑ making to assess and reduce risks and identify the key management strategies that will promote resilience or advance adaptation. The final need is for feedback loops and the capacity for continuous innovation.

The initiative calls for building a motion modeling and decision support system that links climate‑ related forecasts and projections through ocean and ecosystem projections and the ability to turn that into robust future scenarios and actionable advice. The result will be ocean forecasts and projections, operational ecosystem projections, stock or population assessments, risk assessments, and management strategies. The CEFI is the foundation for climate ready decision making in the National Marine Fishery Service and our partners. Fiscal Year 2023 is the second year for a budget request to begin funding and building the CEFI system.  There's $20 million currently requested in NOAA's budget. Four pilot projects are underway and NOAA will pilot the system in Alaska in about five years. NOAA is interested in collaborating with others partners on this and see it as an opportunity to address other needs.

Public Comment

An opportunity was provided for public comments.  There were no public comments.

Adjourn Day 2.

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Welcome chair,

Debbie Lee welcomed everyone to Day 3, and asked ANS Task Force members not present on Day 1 or 2 to introduce themselves.

Update: Northeast Regional Panel

Ian Pfingsten, the Northeast Regional (NEANS) Panel provided an updated on behalf of the panel. Hydrilla in the Connecticut River and its watershed is a growing concern in the Northeast region. The infestation has broad geographic scope in Connecticut and appears to be moving upstream toward Massachusetts. The Panel has met with several Task Force subcommittees to discuss management options. Regional collaboration is ongoing within the Connecticut River basin with renewed attention on hiring a hydrilla project coordinator.

The Panel's Fall 2022 meeting was convened online in December over the course of two half days. The first day encompassed panel business and including discussions and formation of three recommendations to the Task Force. The spring 2022 meeting was convened in May for 2 half days, the agenda included a spotlight on sea slugs, ballast water, climate change, spread prevention, online commerce enforcement, a watch list for the Gulf of Maine, and toxins related to hydrilla.  Information is posted to the panel’s website in the meetings and panel information section. The panel is looking forward to hosting the ANS task force for its next spring meeting.

The climate change working group continues work to develop a list of invasive species. The spread prevention work group continues focus on hydrilla invasion. Through pro bono work the NEANS panel maintains a listserv.  Other pro bono donations include nonprofit management, computer services, redundant data backup protection, webinar services, and other services, materials and equipment.  

Presentation: Hydrilla on the Connecticut River

Ian Pfingsten, U.S. Geological Survey and NEANS Panel Chair presenting on the ongoing management efforts to control the Hydrilla infestation on the Connecticut River and other locations.  Hydrilla verticillata was discovered in the Connecticut River in 2016. Collaborative surveys started in 2018. The NEANS panel held a workshop with the Army Corps of Engineers to discuss management options. In 2019, hydrilla ID cards and signs were created for outreach. In 2020, a five year management plan was developed. In 2021, an environmental review report was published.

A new strain of hydrilla was recently found in Connecticut River. Work is being done by the Army Corps of Engineers and academics to delineate the strain’s origin. Most of Connecticut’s portion of the Connecticut River is occupied by this strain.  Impacts include hindering boat movement and access, creating a low oxygen environment, crowding out native plants, reducing access for water fowl, and reduced fishing access. Home value and tourism is also potentially negatively affected.

State agencies from the four impacted states, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Vermont, and Connecticut, have been working collaboratively to conduct surveys and assess risk. New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services has published surveys results and trainings. The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation and the Department of Fish and Game have worked to manage populations, posting information on public boat ramps, and conducted trainings. The Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation has conducted trainings, herbicide testing, and surveys. The Connecticut Resources Conservation and Development Group worked on the environmental review team report and an awareness documentary.

The NEANS panel reached out to coalition of Northeast governors, but has not yet received a response. There are plans for a pilot study being conducted by the Connecticut Agricultural Station to study impacts to inlets and coves. Additional outreach tools and a boat steward program are in development for the Northeast.

Update: Great Lakes Regional Panel

Eric Fischer, Great Lakes Panel (GLP) chair provided an update on behalf of the Panel. The Great Lakes panel held its Fall meeting virtually in October. The meeting included committee meetings, programmatic updates, presentations on the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, organisms in trade, and social science. The next meeting is scheduled for June.

The GLP Research Coordination Committee is continuing to coordinate on a regional invasive aquatic plant control prioritization and needs assessment. The Information and Education Committee is updating the GLP website. The Organisms and Trade Ad-hoc Committee is writing a summary of the BIOTIC symposium held earlier this year.

Presentation: Great Lakes Panel Risk Assessment Database  

Ceci Weibert, Great Lakes Commission, presented on the Risk Assessment Clearinghouse. The GLP convened the Risk Assessment Ad-hoc Committee in June 2016 to scope and plan a risk assessment clearinghouse to improve the coordination and sharing of risk assessment information in the Great Lakes. The committee identified the information to be included, the audience, and the mechanism. The goal was for users in the Great Lakes to quickly find risk assessments for species of interest. The committee reviewed risk assessment to determine which assessments considered the introduction of a species, the survival of a species, ability to establish and spread, impacts, overall scoring of risk, and other risk factors. Following this scoping work, the committee put forth a series of recommendations for the GLP. The recommendations highlighted the importance for the comparison of risk assessment methods and species summaries. Panel funding was used to develop a clearinghouse for risk assessments though the Great Lakes Aquatic Nonindigenous Species Information System. The clearinghouse captures a wide breadth of methodologies and risk assessment results for species that of interest to the Great Lakes region. An internal and external review was conducted to ensure that methods were sound and that information was presented in a consistent way. The clearinghouse is searchable by several factors, including taxa and methodology. The clearinghouse also allows for comparisons between different risk assessments methodologies.’

Q: Who is maintaining the database to make sure it's updated?

A: The Great Lakes Aquatic Nonindigenous Species Information System does an annual review as part of their program.

Update: Mid Atlantic Regional Panel

Edna Stetzar, Mid Atlantic Panel (MAP) chair, provided an update on behalf of the Panel. The MAP held virtual meetings this year. During the Fall meeting, the Panel agreed to sponsor two student achievement awards for the International Conference on Marine Bioinvasions.  The Panel also formed an Ad-hoc committee to develop regional research priorities. Presentations during the meeting included outreach, watercraft inspections, NAS database, and blue catfish management.

Every spring, MAP conducts a small grant proposal review.  MAP posts a Request for Proposals in February and reviews proposals in April. The Panel uses $30,000 of its funds to support these projects. Selected projects for this year focus on invasions of blue catfish and snakeheads in the Nanacope River, the propensity of American eels to control invasive crayfish, and development of an aquatic invasive species management plan for New Jersey. 

Presentation: Nutria Eradication and Chesapeake Bay Restoration:  A task half complete

Jonathan McKnight, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, presented on the population increase of nutria and their northward movement through Virginia. The Chesapeake Bay Nutria Eradication project is doing this work in the Mid Atlantic. The MAP has supported the eradication project through eDNA research and other things over the years.  Nutria are a big rodent from South America. They were brought in purposefully for the fur trade, but escaped and became invasive. They are sexually mature at six months and breed year round with an average litter size of four to five.  Nutria eat grasses and other marsh plants, leaving behind a barren habitat which impacts wildlife watching, tourism, and the sea food industry. Control efforts have removed nutria from the eastern shore of the Chesapeake Bay since 2006.  Reconnaissance trapping continues, but confident that the population has been eradicated.  Now there has been invasion of nutria from the south, spreading up from North Carolina. Nutria have crossed the James River and are beginning to infiltrate the Chesapeake Bay’s marshes of the Virginia. A Nutria Eradication Program for Virginia is in development to will use the same technology that was developed in Maryland and Delaware. Funds are needed for this work. In Maryland, the eradication project cost $2 million per year. Virginia is on the reconnaissance and planning level, but needs to go to the control and eradication level. Maryland has demonstrated that eradication from a broad range of area can be done. 

Recommendation from the Mid-Atlantic Panel: The Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay was once heavily infested with nutria, an invasive rodent from South America that destroys marshes by devouring them.  The Chesapeake Nutria Eradication program has eliminated that population.   But nutria have begun moving north from the Norfolk area and present a danger to the marshes of the Virginia and Maryland Tidewater.  Virginia is making a valiant effort to thwart the invasion, but they have few resources.  We ask that the Federal Agencies work with the Commonwealth of Virginia to find funds in the Infrastructure bill and other sources to eradicate Virginia before they become widespread.  Nutria are on the move and time is of the essence.  This invasive species is now within sixty miles of the Potomac River and damage to the rich and biodiverse marshlands that lie in between would be a devastating loss to Virginia and the Chesapeake Bay.

Response:  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, on behalf of the Department of the Interior, is providing grants to support implementation of measures that prevent the introduction or spread of invasive species. The USFWS anticipates funding one to four projects, ranging between $200,000 and $1.8 million. The announcement is currently posted on grants.gov. Proposals are due June 22, 2022. State agencies and other organizations within Virginia are eligible to apply for this funding.  The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation through anticipated cooperative agreements from the Department of the Interior (DOI), Department of Defense (DoD), and the Department of Agriculture’s U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and Natural Resources Conservation Service also launched the America the Beautiful Challenge 2022 Request for Proposals. Nutria control efforts would fit into the principles underlying the America the Beautiful Initiative. The full ammoucment is available on the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation website. Proposals are due July 21, 2022.

Q: Is there a report that details the total cost by Maryland to eradicate nutria?

A: There is a report, the cost was approximately about $30 million over 20 years, which was mostly federal funds.

Q: Has there been any interaction with North Carolina?

A: Yes we have reached out to the state, but there was not a lot of concern. The hope it to push the nutria population south.   

Update: Mississippi River Basin Regional Panel

Eugene Braig, Mississippi River Basin Panel (MRBP) chair, provided an update on behalf of the Panel. The last panel meeting was in March, with standing committees meeting beforehand. The meeting notes are being finalized and will be posted to the panel website. The next meetings is being planned for September and will include a half day symposium on bait fish as a potential vector for aquatic invasive species and disease transport within the Mississippi Basin.  MRBP began contracting for additional administrative support early in 2021.The contracted position will assist the executive committee and standing committees with project management needs, freeing the executive committee to more fully participate in meetings.

The MRBP recently coordinated the collection of water samples across the Mississippi River Basin for an assessment of water chemistry. The data provides insight into location of invasive fish. All data generated by this project are archived in an open source repository with southern Illinois University and the final report again will be posted to MRBP.org as it becomes available. The MRBP is also continuing to collaborate with researchers at the University of Nebraska Omaha and a contractor in Ohio to complete a genomic analysis of silver carp throughout the MRBP.  The panel is interested in whether genetic population structure can be identified that corresponds to spawning stocks of silver carp throughout the Basin.  Identification could suggest places to target spawning populations for direct management activities. This project should be completed by 2023.  The MRBP is also updating the panel's compilation of state invasive carp regulations across the Basin, surveying panel members to identify priority pathogens in the context of recreational wide bait trade, and developing a new list of most troublesome or highest priority aquatic invasive species within the Basin. 

Presentation: Supporting Invasive Carp Management and Control in the Mississippi River Basin

Greg Conover from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Duane Chapman from the U.S. Geological Survey presented on the MRBP’s coordination and communication efforts to support multi-agency partnerships used to implement the Invasive Carp National Plan in the Mississippi River Basin. The MRBP has a history of supporting invasive carp management control in the Basin.  The Mississippi Interstate Cooperative Resource Association (MICRA) is the host of the MRBP.  Formed in 1989, MICRA serves to improve conservation management, development, and utilization of interjurisdictional resources in the Basin through improved coordination and communication among responsible management entities. The MRBP developed its first most troublesome species list in 2003, five of the 15 fishes on the list were carp species.  In addition to common carp, the list included four species commonly referred to as invasive carps: bighead, silver, grass and black carp. In 2002, the Fish and Wildlife Service was asked to lead the development of a national management control plan for invasive carp.  In 2004, the Fish and Wildlife Service organized an invasive carp working group to draft the plan.  Many MRBP members actively participated and were instrument in the development of the plan over several years. The plan was approved by the Task Force in 2007.

Invasive carp are more abundant and problematic in the greater Mississippi River Basin than elsewhere in the U.S. and the MRBP has been consistently working on this problem.  The MRBP served as a unique and vital role as a form of information sharing amongst the invasive species coordinators. One of the MRBP’s first carp projects was the International Carp Symposium in Illinois.  This symposium proceedings were published by the American Fishery Society. The MRBP has also facilitated a sampling and harvest methods workshop, eDNA workshop, evaluation of the carp certification program, and rapid response plan. The MRBP supported the 2010 invasive carp marketing summit, led by NOAA Sea Grant, which hosted entrepreneurs desiring to market products made from carp. Videos on processing invasive carp for consumption were conceived at MRBP and funded by NOAA Sea Grant and Louisiana State University. The videos are available YouTube, and collectively have about 200,000 views. The MRBP has also sponsored several research projects on invasive carp, including otolith micro chemistry work used to assess carp recruitment locations.  The MRBP has also developed outreach materials such as invasive carp watch cards. The MRBP continues to be a valuable forum for the coordination and information sharing on invasive carps as well as accomplishing research objectives.

Q: Are we getting a handle on controlling the invasive carp population?

A: That depends on the particular ecosystem you're working in.  For example, Kentucky Lake has been substantially affected by invasive carp. I think we're moving in the right direction there because we have such an important fishery and we're able to put a lot of effort into it. In other places, like the Missouri River, we are not having any effect on that fishery. There has also been success in keeping invasive carp out of the Great Lakes.

Update: Gulf and South Atlantic Regional Panel

James Ballard, Gulf and South Atlantic Regional Panel (GSARP) coordinator, provided an update on behalf of the Panel. The Panel has membership vacancies for Federal agencies and requested assistance in filling these vacancies. There are new members from Alabama, South Carolina, and North Carolina. A virtual meeting was held in December and included presentations on species risks to the Gulf States, risk of consuming fish and water fowl harvested in reservoirs infested by hydrilla, and invasive species passage through the Tombigbee waterway. All the presentations from that meeting are available on the panel's website.

The GSARP has been funding small grant projects for seven years. The Panel has funded 43 projects, totaling over a million dollars.  Selected projects focus on habitat suitability modeling to inform management of nonnative fishes and changing climate, horizon scanning on the islands of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and chemical and biological control for invasive alligatorweed. In addition GSARP is also continuing to support our traveling trunk program.  The Panel is constantly exploring new ways to update the materials and add new species since many teachers use it every year. The Spring GSARP will be held at the end of June in Gulf Shores, Alabama.

Presentation: Overview of the Southeastern Cooperative Fish Parasite and Disease Laboratory

Ash Bullard, Auburn University, provided an overview of the mission of the Southeastern Cooperative Fish Parasite and Disease Laboratory. The laboratory was founded in the mid-1960s at Auburn University. The Laboratory has grants and contracts with state natural resource agencies in the southeastern U.S., which pay a fee for hatchery checks and fish inspections. Staff also advises agencies on how to communicate scientific results to citizens and agency personnel and consults on disease treatment and fish kill investigations. More specialized projects focus on aquatic invasive species that are pathogens of fishes and invertebrates.  A recent study is being conducted on an endemic parasite of Eastern Europe that was probably brought over on rainbow trout when they were produced in the middle of the 20th century. The larval development of the parasite takes place in the fish host and causes cartilage and bone to develop in an abnormal way that leads to deformities. Researchers realized that the parasite in the southeastern U.S uses an array of different hosts. The diversity of related species is vastly underestimated and probably led to a lot of false positives.

The laboratory is also studying Japanese and Chinese mystery snails, which have recently established populations in northern Alabama.  These snails are a vector for exotic pathogens that have an effect on local endemic fauna.  Other studies focus on larval flukes that matures in catfish, an example of an endemic parasite exploiting an introduced host. The laboratory also conducts virology screening, recently it detected Infectious hematopoietic necrosis virus (IHNV), the first detection of the virus published in the Eastern U.S.

Q: Can you eat fish infected with parasites?

A: There is no evidence that they can infect humans.  Some parasites cause the fish to look deformed and unappealing to the consumer, but they don't pose any threat to human health.

Update: Western Regional Panel

Leah Elwell, Western Regional Panel (WRP) coordinator, provided an update on behalf of the panel.  The annual WRP meeting will be held in September in Anchorage Alaska.  The agenda will be a mix of presentations that will focus on Alaska specific invasive species topics, coastal issues, and other emerging issues along with workshops and committee meetings.

The Coastal Committee has been working on outreach pieces for recreational and commercial vessels and mobile marine infrastructure. This committee has also focused on potential pathways associated with offshore energy development. The Education and Outreach Committee has been engaged in a study to assess the effectiveness of outreach campaign messaging and delivery methods to elicit behavior change in specific boating and boater demographics. This project is to be completed by the end of September. The Watercraft Inspection and Decontamination Committee are involved in reviewing and revising existing procedures on watercraft inspection and decontamination. The eDNA work group functions as a venue for exchange of information with managers and keeping up on the state of the science. The Wildland Fire Equipment Work Group serves to simplify guidelines and make prescriptive onsite templates available to prevent the spreading invasive species during wildland fire operations. The work group is also producing a presentation to train firefighters and resource advisors.

Recommendations from WRP:
  1. The WRP respectfully requests the Task Force to repeat their encouragement for the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to implement and fund the Coastal AIS Mitigation Grant Program and Mitigation Fund (Vessel Incidental Discharge Act Sec. 902(10)(f)) at the requested $5 million per year plus any USCG penalties for violations. The WRP made this recommendation in 2019 to encourage implementation of the grant program and mitigation fund that was specifically described in statute. The WRP wishes to elevate this issue again, as the grant program and mitigation fund have not yet been implemented.

    Response: The Coastal AIS Mitigation Grant Program is established under the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act and has not received any appropriations to date.  Without congressional funding, activities outlined by the VIDA cannot be performed.  However, NOAA is actively trying to raise awareness around this issue within the agency and brought this to the attention of our senior level staff and made concerted efforts to demonstrate the importance of this program and helping to better manage coastal resources and mitigate the impact of the AIS.  We support the WRP's recommendation, and we'll share it with senior level staff within the agency, and we're happy to keep the WRP updated on our progress towards advancing this goal.  However, we'll point out that funding decisions at this level will ultimately need to come from Congress, and may require additional political support to move forward.
  2. The WRP respectfully requests an update from the ANSTF at an upcoming meeting about task force agencies’ activities related to stony coral tissue loss disease, including any EDRR planning and capacity-building activities in the Pacific islands, Hawaii, and other US-affiliated coral reef areas that are currently free of this disease.

    Response: The topic will be added to the next meeting agenda. The Executive Secretary will work with the appropriate agencies to present on the topic, including management actions planned or currently being pursued.
Recommendation from the Western Regional Panel and Mississippi River Basin Panel
  1. The national interagency fire team created guidelines for preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species through wildland fire operations in 2017 (PMS 444). However, implementation of these guidelines has varied greatly across jurisdictions and incidents. With the increased frequency and intensity of catastrophic wildfire, the WRP and MRBP strongly recommend that all federal and national agencies involved in fire operations (USDA Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Indian Affairs, National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Association of State Foresters, US Fire Administration) adopt the national AIS guidelines as mandatory and encourage all subsequent regions, offices etc. to comply/implement for mitigating the risk of AIS introduction and transport related to wildland fire operations.  Recognizing that fire season has evolved to fire year, initiating implementation as soon as possible is suggested.

    Response:  The Guide to Preventing Aquatic Invasive Species Transport by Wildland Fire Operations will be reviewed by the Prevention Subcommittee. After the review, the subcommittee members facilitate a discussion with the panels and agencies involved in fire operation to determine appropriate next steps to implementing the guidelines.
Recommendation from the Western Regional Panel, Mississippi River Basin Panel, and Great Lakes Panel
  1. The AIS Management Community, with the help of the ANS Task Force, has fostered a good and needed partnership with the watercraft industry. However, the constant evolution of boat design within the watercraft industry creates situations that impact the ability to perform effective decontaminations and adequately protect vital resources. Given boaters are a shared customer with industry, this is also a detriment to the boater experience. In order to keep up with design changes and perform decontaminations successfully, the AIS management community requests that the ANSTF assist in continuing to increase and improve interactions between the watercraft industry (e.g. American Boat and Yacht Council) and WRP managing partner entities.

    Response: In 2013, the ANSTF established an ad-hoc committee to address recommendations for reducing the spread of AIS through boats. This subcommittee worked with the boating industry to produce a Technical Information Report for the Design and Construction of Watercraft in Consideration of Aquatic Invasive Species. The Executive Secretary will work the panels and industry representatives to discuss the evolution of boat design and determine if the Boating Ad-Hoc Committee should be reestablished to update the design standards in the Technical Information Report.

Meeting Summary

Decisional and Action Items are listed at the beginning of the meeting minutes.

Public Comment

An opportunity was provided for public comments.  There were no public comments.

Adjourn Meeting