One of the most significant threats to biodiversity in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence region is the introduction of nonindigenous aquatic invasive species (AIS) into the ecosystem. Upon introduction, AIS can establish reproducing populations, thus posing risks to the economic and ecological health of the region and negative impacts to society. As of 2006, more than 180 AIS have been documented in the Great Lakes ecosystem1, including known harmful species such as zebra mussel, quagga mussel, sea lamprey, purple loosestrife, Eurasian water milfoil, round goby, ruffe, spiny and fishhook water fleas, and rusty crayfish. Pathways for introduction include maritime commerce (ballast water discharge and hull fouling), aquaculture (private and public operations, recreational fisheries enhancement), organisms in trade (live food fish, aquaculture, horticulture, bait), canals and waterways, recreational activities (boating, scuba diving, float plane operation and fishing), and biological control. While some of the introductions associated with these activities have been accidental, others have been intentional.
Statement of Purpose
There is an ongoing need to prevent new AIS introductions and control the spread of established AIS populations in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence region. Stakeholders must have an understanding and acceptance of the necessary actions to protect the biological integrity and beneficial uses of the resource. These stakeholders include the general public, commercial and recreational water users, governmental agencies and jurisdictions, research scientists, natural resource managers, shipping industry, and policy makers, among others. To empower stakeholders and encourage stewardship, credible and sound information needs to be compiled for effective dissemination and application. The Information and Education (I/E) Committee of the Great Lakes Panel on Aquatic Nuisance Species (ANS) offers this document as a resource to guide funding entities and to assist stakeholders in the development of projects that address AIS information and education priority needs. Priorities are presented in topical areas of prevention, collaboration/partnerships, information management, marketing, education and evaluation. Sources of information for this priorities document include the Great Lakes Panel's Information and Education Strategy for Aquatic Nuisance Prevention and Control, the National Invasive Species Council Management Plan, as well as I/E Committee recommendations, among others. It is expected that the document, as presented, will evolve as new information is available. Although work is underway for some of the priorities as listed; it is understood that further progress is needed under these priorities. Research priorities have been identified and presented in a document entitled, Great Lakes Panel on Aquatic Nuisance Species Research Committee, Aquatic Invasive Species Research Priorities for the Great Lakes - 2005. Lists of policy priorities will be developed by the Policy and Legislation Committee of the Great Lakes Panel.