Developing legal, regulatory frameworks for slowing invasive shellfish in the West

Oregon Sea Grant has partnered with legal and regulatory agencies from around the nation to explore possible ways to slow the spread of invasive mussels and other organisms via watercraft. Organisms such as Zebra and Quagga mussels have spread into many eastern and midwestern US waterways, often transported by boat owners who fail to notice them clinging to the bottoms of their vessels. The small shellfish multiply rapidly and and can clog water systems, costing millions in eradication and repair.

This multi-state collaboration began in August 2012 with a co-learning workshop convened in Phoenix, AZ by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Association of Attorneys General, Oregon Sea Grant, the National Sea Grant Law Center, and the Western Regional Panel on Aquatic Nuisance Species. The purposse was to engage law enforcement, policy makers and the 19 Western state Aquatic Invasive Species coordinators, along with interstate organizations and federal partners, to establish clear legal and regulatory approaches and  opportunities for AIS abatement and reform.

One outcome of the workshop was an action plan that articulates needed actions at the federal/national, regional, state, and local levels to minimize the expansion of invasive mussels through watercraft movements in the western United States.

Additional meetings in 2013 and 2014 helped craft consensus and refine a multi-state vision for watercraft inspection programs designed to discover and eliminate these invasive threats before they can extend their range.

Background documents, working papers and other products from this collaborative effort are now housed at the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission's new Aquatic Invasive Species site, developed in response to this collaborative effort.