Prevention is the first line of defense against aquatic nuisance species and the most cost-effective means to avert the risk of harmful introductions. Investment in prevention avoids many of the long-term economic, environmental, and social costs associated with ANS. New species can arrive through many different ways, but most species that are considered to be invasive are a direct result of human activity.

A zebra mussel-encrusted boat propeller from Lewis and Clark Lake in South Dakota. Zebra mussels are an 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
that attach to virtually any hard, non-moving surface. Boat propeller prepared and provided by SD GF&P.

Common pathways for ANS introduction include:

  • Ballast water operations
  • Biofouling of ship hulls
  • Transport on watercraft, fishing gear, and other recreational equipment
  • Escape from aquaculture facilities
  • Escape from nurseries and water gardens
  • Intentionally stocked as food or recreational sources
  • Intentional release of unwanted pets
  • Use of non-native species for habitat restoration or erosion control efforts
  • Accidental or intentional release of classroom and laboratory animals
  • Fishing bait release

Long-term success in prevention will reduce the rate of introductions, the rate of establishment, and the damage from additional aquatic nuisance species. Below are key resources developed by the Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force, its members, regional panels, or subcommittees to prevent the introduction or spread of aquatic nuisance species:

Risk Analysis:

  • Generic Nonindigenous Aquatic Organisms Risk Analysis Review Process (1996)
  • Pathway Definition, Risk Analysis and Risk Prioritization - Training and Implementation Guide (2007)

Ballast Water

  • National Ballast Information Clearinghouse  - a joint program of the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC) and the United States Coast Guard that collects, analyzes, and interprets data on the ballast water management practices of commercial ships operating in the waters of the United States.

Firefighting Equipment

  • Decontaminating Firefighting Equipment to Reduce the Spread of Aquatic Invasive Species - Developed by the Western Regional Panel, the Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force these adopted these protocols in 2023. This how-to guide provides step-by-step instructions on drafting from a water source, setting up and using a decontamination station, and disposing of products once finished at a site to minimize the introduction and spread of AIS. This guide is intended to serve as a supplement to the National Wildfire Coordinating Group’s Guide to Preventing AIS Transport by Wildfire Operations (PMS 444, January 2017).

Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP)

  • HACCP Training. Planning to Prevent the Spread of Invasive Species, HACCP is five-step planning process that manages the risk of moving potentially invasive species during natural resource management or research activities. HACCP Training Manual

Watercraft Inspection and Decontamination

Developed by the Western Regional Panel, the Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force these adopted these protocols in 2021 as recommended procedures for watercraft inspection and decontamination.