recommended to prevent spread of invasive species
The Associated Press
CHICAGO - A sushi restaurant discards fish eggs that
later end up in a waterway.
A child dumps a pet turtle into a local lake that eventually
empties into the ocean.
The examples seem innocuous enough, but they show how
people can unwittingly introduce invasive species, which
are non-native plants, animals or parasites that affect
oceans and lakes, in the nation's waters.
Panelists speaking before the U.S. Commission on Ocean
Policy on Wednesday recommended education as one of several
ways to prevent the problem from spreading.
"There is a real lack of knowledge out there about what's
going on. It's more than just informing people. It's getting
them engaged, getting them to care," said Ted Beattie,
a member of the commission and president and chief executive
officer of the John G. Shedd Aquarium.
Aquariums can play a role by creating exhibits that discuss
invasive species and show how they can affect people's
lives, he said.
"The more specific we can get, the more effective it
can be. We need to make sure the impact of the invasive
species hits home," Beattie said.
The commission met at the Shedd Aquarium to hear presentations
on coastal and ocean issues concerning the Great Lakes
region. Commissioners will use the information they received
at the meeting to create recommendations for a national
Examples of the impact of invasive species are easy to
find even in urban settings such as Chicago, said Lori
Williams, executive director of the National Invasive
Species Council. They include the collapse of the lake
trout fishery because of invasive sea lamprey in the 1950s,
the effect on the Chicago shoreline caused by the zebra
mussel and the concern that big head carp could soon enter
the Great Lakes.
Many invasive species are introduced accidentally in
various ways, including through the ballast water of ships,
Jeffrey Reutter, director of the Ohio Sea Grant College
Program at The Ohio State University, said education on
the issue is needed but should be entertaining. For example,
he said signs could be posted along lines for rides at
amusement or water parks that present information about
invasive species in an entertaining way.
"No one wants to stand in line and read what a professor
would put in a textbook," he said.
James Watkins, a retired U.S. Navy admiral who is chairman
of the commission, asked panelists to give the commission
more information about the problem of invasive species
and the importance of educating the public about it.
"These are the kind of things the commission can help
with but we have to have specifics," he said. "We don't
see the negative impact as often. You have to show us
why this is bad."