Overview of the Issue

Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) present one of the biggest threats and challenges to recreational fisheries as their continued spread has a multitude of negative impacts on fisheries, ecosystems, and local economies. AIS is not limited to one species or region but is a holistic issue that spans a multitude of species across the country. This ranges from preventing the introduction of Asian Carp in the Great Lakes and their management in already established regions to issues surrounding limiting access on water bodies to curtail the introduction of certain AIS.

Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Conservation Seminar from the 2020 Sportfishing Summit

AIS represent one of the largest threats to fisheries throughout the country.

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What ASA is Doing

ASA staff is working with Federal Agencies by attending Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force meetings, collaborating with the Subcommittees and providing comments and input on Federal regulations with regards to invasive species.

To further education, outreach and advocacy efforts, the ASA team is hosting Hill briefings to educate Members of Congress and staff about AIS issues; advocating for Federal and State legislation focused on AIS control, eradication and management; and speaking about AIS at in various public setting such as at the Bassmaster Classic Conservation Summit.

Federal Invasive Species Strategic Plans: Title VI Section 7001 of S.47, the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act, required the Department of Interior, and others, to create a Strategic Plan for Invasive Species. Specifically, S. 47 called for “a substantive annual net reduction of invasive species populations or infested acreage on land or water managed by the Secretary”. On August 13, 2020, the Department of Interior released a Draft Invasive Species Strategic Plan that outlined the Departments commitment to combatting invasive species through enacting goals and establishing a strategic framework. ASA is actively checking the federal register for the release of additional plans and is drafting comments for the DOI plan.

Tennessee and Mississippi River Basin Asian Carp: The Tennessee and Mississippi River basins span multiple states and are currently overrun with Asian Carp. While efforts have primarily focused on limiting the spread, a large population is established in the area and is negatively impacting recreational fisheries. Notably, the coalition is focused on appropriations requests at the Federal level, assisting state resource agencies with their ANS Management Plans, working with Hill staff to develop legislative initiatives, and organizing education/outreach campaigns. ASA participated in a Hill briefing in early March, continues to join in on Carp Coalition Calls, and included funding for Asian Carp programs in our Appropriations requests. Additionally, WRDA and AWIA contained several programs focused on Asian Carp and Aquatic Invasive Species in general which we included in our priority letter as well.

Asian carp and the “Brandon Road” studyThe USACE was authorized in WRDA to conduct a study on strategies to halt the migration of invasive species between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins. Under GLMRIS, USACE investigated an Asian carp plan at the Brandon Road Lock and Dam on the Illinois River. On May 23, 2019, the Army Corps released the “Chief’s Report” which focuses on several prevention measures used to deter migration at the Brandon Road site. Currently, the USACE is in the Preconstruction, Engineering, and Design (PED) phase of the project and needs a commitment from Illinois and Michigan to uphold their end of the non-federal cost share for a sum of $10 million. On September 8th, 2020, Michigan re-appropriated $8 million for their share of the PED, leaving Illinois to put up the last $2 million. Aside from monitoring the situation in Illinois to see if involvement is warranted, ASA included the Brandon Road project in our Appropriations and WRDA priority letters.

On December 8, 2020, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2020 which addresses poor water quality, invasive species and outdated infrastructure, all of which impact recreational fishing. Specifically the bill supports efforts to eradicate, control and manage aquatic invasive species (AIS) by:

  • Authorizing the Brandon Road Lock and Dam, which is a critical project to block the spread of Asian carp into the Great Lakes.
  • Expanding the Army Corps of Engineers AIS Research Program.
  • Authorizing increased funding and geographic scope of watercraft inspection stations.
  • Establishing an Asian Carp Prevention Pilot Program and dedicating additional resources to fight the spread of Asian Carp throughout the Mississippi and Ohio River basins.

What You Can Do

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For more information, contact ASA Vice President of Government Affairs Mike Leonard.