still pending as 107th Congress draws to a close
Species: The time to act is now!
The Great Lakes Commission
Ann Arbor, Mich. -- With time running
out for the 107th Congress, the Great Lakes Commission
is urging it not to forget the acute threat that aquatic
nuisance species pose to the Great Lakes and the rest
of the nation's ecosystems.
The Commission is calling on Congress to
expedite reauthorization of the National Invasive Species
Act (NISA), the nation's primary legislation for the prevention
and control of invasive aquatic nuisance species (ANS).
With only a few short weeks in the lame-duck session following
the Nov. 5, 2002 election, any legislation not completed
then will have to start the process anew when the 108th
Congress convenes in January.
"We can't afford to delay," said Sam Speck,
chair of the Great Lakes Commission and director of the
Ohio Department of Natural Resources. "With the Great
Lakes facing the threat of a potentially disastrous invasion
by the Asian carp, and the continued spread and proliferation
of destructive invaders such as the zebra and quagga mussels
and the round goby, we must have this legislation now."
In calling for passage of the new legislation,
known as the National
Aquatic Invasive Species Act (NAISA) of 2002, the Commission
encouraged Congress to include a series of measures recommended
by the Great Lakes Panel on Aquatic Nuisance
Species. These measures, which directly address prevention
and control measures in the Great Lakes, include:
- Investing in programs that will prevent new ANS introductions
into Great Lakes waters, such as an improved, more durable
electric barrier in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal.
- Funding state ANS management plans and regional ANS
panels, including the Great Lakes Panel on Aquatic Nuisance
Species. Since invasive species wreak havoc regardless
of political boundaries, such regional panels address
the critical need to manage aquatic invasive species
on a state, regional and national scale.
- Establishing national standards for preventing the
introduction and spread of ANS through ballast water
- Establishing a process to identify the most likely
pathways for ANS introduction, so that tools can be
developed to block those pathways.
- Developing a rapid response program to address and
minimize new ANS introductions.
- Raising the profile of information, education and
outreach programs aimed at raising awareness of how
officials, businesses and the general public can help
prevent the introduction and spread of ANS.
Three bills are now before Congress. In
the House, reauthorization provisions are contained in
a bill (H.R.
5396) introduced by Rep. Wayne Gilchrest of Maryland,
while Rep. Vernon Ehlers of Michigan introduced a separate
5395) on research. The Senate is considering a
related bill (S.
2964) introduced by Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan.
The call comes at the time when the Commission
is beginning work on a system to map and track ANS invasions
in Michigan, providing resource managers with a new tool
to prevent and control such invasions.
The Commission will develop a map-based
database, commonly known as a geographic information system
(GIS), that will provide timely and reliable information
on Michigan ANS invasions. Accessible via the Internet,
the system will assist the state's resource managers and
decisionmakers in coordinating their efforts and help
keep ANS invasions out of uninfested waters. It will also
provide a basis for further applications of the decision-support
tool on a broader, regional scale.
The new project, funded by the Michigan
Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) through the
Michigan Great Lakes Protection Fund, complements a growing
suite of Great Lakes Commission projects aimed at ANS
prevention and control. These include development of an
early detection and monitoring program, and a rapid response
project, both funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency-Great Lakes National Program Office (EPA-GLNPO).
Great Lakes Commission, chaired by Samuel W. Speck
(Ohio), is a nonpartisan, binational compact agency created
by state and U.S. federal law and dedicated to promoting
a strong economy, healthy environment and high quality
of life for the Great Lakes - St. Lawrence region and
its residents. The Commission consists of state legislators,
agency officials, and governors' appointees from its eight
member states. Associate
membership for Ontario and Québec was established
through the signing of a "Declaration
of Partnership." The Commission maintains a formal
Observer program involving
U.S. and Canadian federal agencies, tribal authorities,
binational agencies and other regional interests. The
Commission offices are located in Ann Arbor, Michigan.