The Aquatic Invasive Species Commission was established in 2022 by members of the outdoor recreation industry (including BoatU.S.) to turn the tide on proliferating AIS. Different species — whether zebra mussels in the Northeast, snakeheads in the Mid-Atlantic, lionfish off Florida, or Asian carp in the Midwest — have different means of encroaching, so there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Aquatic invasive species don’t respect borders, so today’s patchwork of local efforts to halt the AIS spread is losing ground.
A United Nations-backed global study released this summer estimated the spread of more than 3,500 harmful invasives (aquatic and terrestrial) are costing society more than $423 billion each year — and getting worse fast. The study finds invasive species are changing biodiversity and ecosystems globally, causing species extinction, and damaging food supplies and human livelihoods.
For the U.S. approach, the AIS commission’s final report recommends a renewed federal approach to addressing the challenges, informed by consultations with leading voices in natural resources policy, scientists, federal, state, and tribal representatives, and recreational stakeholders.
“The plan is for our BoatU.S. Government Affairs department and our partners to develop legislation addressing the needs outlined in the report,” explains Alanna Keating, BoatU.S. Foundation’s director of outreach. That legislation will be based on the AIS Commission’s recommendations, which include:
- Updating federal law and policy to enhance prevention, reduce spread, and increase management of AIS.
- Increasing federal funding to address AIS through a coordinated, strategic, and targeted approach across federal departments, agencies, and bureaus to provide tools to address AIS at the regional and watershed levels.
- Enhancing collaboration between states, regions, and marine industries and communities, including recreational boating. Communication and planning are critical to AIS prevention, detection, management, and eradication.
- Maintaining access to the water. Laws, regulations, and policies addressing AIS at the federal, state, regional, and tribal levels should maintain access for boaters, anglers, and other users in a manner that seeks to balance use of waterways with the ecological health and long-term sustainability of critical natural resources.
- Increasing public education and engagement, especially outdoor users such as anglers, boaters, hunters, and other conservationists to help reduce the persistent threats of AIS.