Dedicated funding for efforts that block pathways of movement for AIS prevents their introduction and spread.

Preventing the introduction of new non-native species is the most cost-effective approach to minimize future threats from AIS. Prevention activities aim to reduce the risk of uptake, movement, and introduction of non-native species, and may be applied to any of the pathways that introduce AIS into the Great Lakes basin: trade in live organisms, recreational activities, shipping, and canals and waterways.

Funding for prevention activities tends to focus on pathways, rather than individual species. Different species can be moved through each pathway, and some pathways may overlap in what species are moved (for example, an aquatic plant that is released from an aquarium into a lake and is then caught in the motor of a recreational boat and moved to another lake). Pathways may also differ between jurisdictions, such as a species that may be present in one jurisdiction and able to move through canals and waterways there but is not present in waters of another jurisdiction and therefore unable to spread via that pathway. Further, research is still ongoing to understand exactly what species are moved through which pathways. For these reasons, effective prevention activities at a pathway scale are more likely to reduce the number of species introductions, regardless of what those individual species are.

Annual GLRI funding for prevention

Annual Funding Level

The proportion of GLRI funding directed toward AIS prevention activities between FY2010 and 2018 was relatively consistent, hovering around 20 percent. The greater funding total in FY2010 is reflective of the higher overall funding amount for GLRI that year, as well as the inclusion of 14 projects that were collectively awarded a total of $10,475,225 to study ballast water treatment technologies and methods for preventing the spread of AIS through the shipping pathway.


Trade in live organismsRecreational boatingShippingCanals and waterways

Prevention activities are imperative to reducing movement of AIS. These efforts include developing and testing prevention technology for ballast water in the shipping pathway, coordinated boat wash and inspection events in the recreational boating pathway, conducting risk assessments for potential AIS in the trade in live organisms pathway, and designing effective barriers to limit natural spread of species in the canals pathway.

Prevention activities across all possible pathways of movement for AIS are imperative to reducing future invasions. These may efforts include developing and testing prevention technology for ballast water in the shipping pathway, coordinated boat wash and inspection events in the recreational boating pathway, conducting risk assessments for potential AIS in the trade in live organisms pathway, and designing effective barriers to limit natural spread of species in the canals pathway. Each pathway is unique and has different points at which prevention activities can take place, making it imperative for prevention programs to understand the full scope of the pathway they are trying to restrict movement through and address prevention activities at as many points in the pathway as is feasible.

Recipients of GLRI Funding for Prevention

Total Funding Level
Federal government32047503
State government4813846
Local government339215
Tribal government912816
Regional government740000
Other non-governmental organization17259982
Private industry0

GLRI funding is awarded to multiple levels of government and a variety of public and private entities that are involved in programs and projects to prevent the introduction of AIS.

Dispersing funding to a variety of partners ensures that the responsibility of prevention activities is spread between organizations, rather than concentrated within one agency, and allows for unique project goals and methods. One organization may be better suited than another to conduct particular activities, whether due to geographic jurisdiction, research facilities, or other factors, further encouraging funders to target a wide array of recipient groups to ensure the highest-quality prevention programs.

The information presented here builds on a database of AIS funding originally developed by the Great Lakes Panel on Aquatic Nuisance Species.

Funding sources for AIS work are varied and include grant programs administered by non-profit organizations, private sector funding initiatives, and base agency budgets set annually through state, provincial, and federal legislatures. Federal funding in the U.S. includes the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI), which was established and funded in 2010 to address the major threats to Great Lakes ecosystems and drinking waters, including AIS. For more information about GLRI and funding, visit

GLRI data presented here is derived from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (U.S. EPA)Environmental Accomplishments in the Great Lakes (EAGL) database of federally-dispersed GLRI funds (i.e., FY2010-2015 funding dispersed directly to recipients for project implementation), including associated data metrics and project descriptions. A set of search terms and functions relevant to AIS research and management was used to identify AIS projects within the EAGL database. The information presented here does not include funding data for invasive carp projects. For complete information about Asian Carp Action Plan funding and projects, visit

Investing in Successful Prevention

Investing in Successful Prevention

Recreational Boating Pathway

Recreational Boating Pathway

© Wisconsin Sea Grant

Boat wash stations are used throughout the Great Lakes Basin to assist recreational boaters in cleaning their boats after use and removing any plants, mud, standing water, etc. that can be moved between lakes and introduce invasive species. Funding has supported boat wash stations throughout the Great Lakes Basin, including:

  • A portable boat wash station that can be moved between boating access points in remote areas of Wisconsin, ensuring that prevention is a priority throughout the state
  • A permanent boat wash station at Paradise Lake, Michigan, that is maintained by the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians in partnership with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to prevent the spread of invasive species from an inland lake to nearby Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. This project was designed to serve as a model for smaller communities who wish to prevent the spread of invasive species through the recreational boating pathway

Risk Assessments

Risk Assessments

Aquarium tank of fish

© Lindsay Chadderton/The Nature Conservancy

Risk assessments are an integral part of preventing new species risk assessments by identifying what species and what pathways are likely to be the most harmful to the Great Lakes. The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has funded a number of risk assessment projects, including:

  • A risk assessment program within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has conducted over 1,000 risk assessments since it was funded through GLRI in 2010. As a result of this program, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service expanded the number of species that are federally regulated as "injurious species" in 2016 to add eleven additional invasive species identified as high risk
  • Federal partners participated in a pathway risk assessment project in federal fiscal year 2015. This project focused on law enforcement activities that enforce each jurisdiction's prevention measures for each pathway to better understand the level of risk that priority pathways posed for each jurisdiction. Pathways that were identified as high risk through this project and associated law enforcement activities that address those pathways can inform jurisdictional decisions about prevention efforts and lead to more effective management

Shipping Pathway

Shipping Pathway

cargo ship on the detroit river
<div class="text-formatted field field--name-field-media-tooltip field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field__item"><p>© Photo by Michigan Sea Grant</p></div>

© Michigan Sea Grant

Shipping is one of the most well-studied pathways of introduction for invasive species, as it is responsible for the introduction of at least 97 non-native species into the Great Lakes. To reduce spread through this pathway, ballast water management rules are enforced by the U.S. Coast Guard and Transport Canada, and the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative continues to fund projects that seek to develop ballast water treatment systems to meet those requirements, including:

  • Support for the Northeast-Midwest Institute to serve as an independent testing facility to test the effectiveness of ballast water treatment systems in fresh water
  • Studies by the U.S. Coast Guard to understand the feasibility of use of ballast water treatment systems in ships that are confined to the Great Lakes



Minnesota DNR conservation officer and dog inspecting a boat for invasive mussels

© Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

Funding for compliance activities is used to confirm that everyone is following regulations designed to prevent the introduction of invasive species. Agencies each approach compliance monitoring in different ways, but funding for these programs is key to ensuring the effectiveness of regulations:

  • The state of Minnesota maintains a mussel detector canine program, using dogs that are trained to sniff out any invasive mussels that may be attached to a boat so that they may be removed prior to moving the boat, in accordance with state laws
  • The state of Michigan conducts regular inspections of businesses who sell live aquatic organisms to ensure that invasive species are not sold as bait, pets, water garden plants, or live food