Aquatic invasive species cost Great Lakes communities and businesses millions of dollars each year.
Numerous local, state, provincial and federal plans and policies, including the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement and Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Action Plan, identify goals and strategies for tackling the problem of aquatic invasive species (AIS). These shared regional goals are to:
Prevent the introduction of new aquatic invasive species
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 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
Detect and respond to new introductions of aquatic invasive species
Early detection (i.e., monitoring) and response programs are intended to detect new non-native species early while populations are still localized. Early detection increases the likelihood that work to contain, control, and ideally eradicate new populations will be effective. A comprehensive basin-wide approach is needed to coordinate and guide detection and response efforts.
Control established aquatic invasive species to reduce negative impacts
More than 185 non-native species are established in the Great Lakes, some of which are considered invasive and are causing ecological and/or economic damage. While significant progress is being made to prevent the introduction and establishment of new AIS, damaging populations of AIS that already exist should be managed to reduce their negative impacts.
Solving a cross-boundary problem requires a coordinated approach using the best available information. Guided by a binational working group of U.S. and Canadian state, provincial and federal representatives, Blue Accounting tracks progress toward shared regional goals for AIS prevention and control. Blue Accounting provides regional data and information on efforts to:
Making a Difference
Well-targeted prevention policies help reduce the number of new species entering the Great Lakes. Prior to 2007, a new species was discovered in the Great Lakes every eight months on average. That rate has dropped in the last decade since new rules were introduced requiring ships to exchange or treat their ballast water before entering the Great Lakes. Other targeted prevention strategies have the potential for similar impacts.
© Photo by Michigan Sea Grant
Despite considerable progress over the last several decades, the Great Lakes remain under threat from a suite of invaders including invasive fish like the silver carp (pictured here). Today, the Great Lakes region is leading the development of new technology to more effectively detect species early in the invasion process, which increases the chances of successful detection and eradication of new invaders.
© T. Lawrence/Great Lakes Fishery Commission
The sea lamprey, an invasive eel-like creature, is now the top predator in the Great Lakes. Established invasive species can have a huge impact on Great Lakes ecosystems. Programs such as the sea lamprey control program can have enormous impacts on reducing the presence of an invasive species, in turn, protecting critical resources and industries.
© M. Gaden/Great Lakes Fishery Commission