Policies to restrict the trade of high-risk species, best practices for industries involved in the sale and distribution of live organisms, and outreach to consumers are all used to reduce the risk of spreading AIS.
- Regulatory policies restrict the sale, possession and transport of harmful invasive species.
- Consistent policies across state, provincial and federal agencies increase protection for the entire Great Lakes Basin and create a level playing field for industry and consumers.
- Outreach to consumers and industry promotes voluntary risk reduction activities that strengthen overall prevention efforts.
Historically, the importation and sale of aquatic species is the second largest invasion pathway for new species into the Great Lakes, introducing more non-native species than any pathway other than shipping. Effective prevention for this pathway requires a good understanding of what species are being transported and sold, and how and why potential invasive species are being released into the environment. This includes working with the many public and private entities involved with the aquarium, water garden, aquaculture, bait, and live food industries to identify and remove harmful species and encourage the use of low-risk or native alternatives. Education and outreach can also encourage industry stakeholders and consumers to adopt practices that ensure that plants and animals are not released into the wild. Best practices are promoted through outreach campaigns such as HabitattitudeTM, RIPPLE, and Be a Hero Release ZeroTM.
Education and voluntary best practices are supplemented with consistent policies at the U.S. and Canadian state, provincial, and federal level. These policies may regulate the import, sale, transportation, possession, and release of invasive species. Consistent policies create a level playing field for industry and consumers and help proactively ensure that harmful species used as bait, in water gardens, in aquariums, or for any other purpose will not be accidentally or deliberately released into the Great Lakes Basin.