Tracking the invasion and spread of aquatic nuisance species (ANS) requires systematic, coordinated action. Surveillance for ruffe in the Great Lakes is an example of an effective "early warning system" to assess the spread of invading nonindigenous species and provide information to the public to prevent further spread. The ruffe (Gymnocephalus cernuus), a Eurasian perch, was likely introduced to the St. Louis River Estuary of Lake Superior in the mid 1980's through the ballast water of an ocean vessel. Ruffe increased rapidly in abundance and have become a dominant member of the fish community in the estuary. Research and monitoring suggest that ruffe pose a potential threat to native forage fish due to competition for food and space, thus driving resource managers to examine the ecological impacts of this nonindigenous species on the Great Lakes fishery and to predict patterns for the future.
Systematic surveillance began in 1992 to determine the current and potential extent of the ruffe invasion. Surveillance enables managers to 1) identify newly-established populations early, 2) track or detect range expansions, 3) estimate potential impacts of introductions or range expansions by gathering baseline data on pre-existing populations and habitat, and 4) evaluate control or management strategies. Ruffe surveillance is a binational model that illustrates how management agencies can effectively track nonindigenous species introductions, providing useful information for management decisions, including outreach activities to prevent further ANS spread.
The Ruffe Control Committee, convened by the national ANS Task Force, identified surveillance as one of the eight primary objectives of the Ruffe Control Program. Due to the interjurisdictional nature of the issue, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (OMNR) coordinate surveillance efforts. The Ashland Fishery Resources Office (FRO) is the center for ruffe activities conducted by the USFWS, with support from the Alpena FRO and the Lower Great Lakes FRO. This cooperative, binational approach has expanded surveillance efforts to U.S. and Canadian waters in all five Great Lakes.
Surveillance activities include field surveys, a mail survey and public education. The primary objective of field surveys is to locate new populations of ruffe and describe their age/size composition and sex ratio. An additional objective is to describe the fish community at each location surveyed. The voluntary mail survey, conducted by OMNR, targets agencies, organizations or individuals that routinely collect or handle Great Lakes fish. Both OMNR and USFWS recognize the value of an informed public and encourage people to report suspected sightings of ruffe. In several cases, recreational anglers were the first to report the presence of ruffe in new locations.
An annual report summarizing the expansion of ruffe has been prepared and distributed since 1992. Ruffe populations currently remain limited to western Lake Superior and the mouth of the Thunder Bay River in Lake Huron near Alpena, Mich. Surveillance efforts throughout the Great Lakes remain a priority activity for both agencies. Concern over the impacts of ruffe to infested and uninfested areas of the Great Lakes as well as inland waters highlights the need for continued ruffe surveillance.
Contact: Sandra Keppner (USFWS, Amherst, NY), 716-691-5456, firstname.lastname@example.org, Tom Busiahn (USFWS, Ashland, WI, Chair of the Ruffe Control Committee), 715-682-6185, email@example.com, Jerry McClain (USFWS, Alpena, Mich.), 517-356-3052, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Panel met June 9-10, 1998, in Ann Arbor, Mich. Reports were presented on U.S. legislation and appropriations involving NISA implementation, the ballast technology demonstration project, model guidelines for ANS prevention and control, ballast water management guidelines and the Chicago waterways dispersal barrier project. The Panel approved its FY99 work plan.
A symposium on model guidance for Great Lakes state ANS legislation and regulations was conducted. The guidance was approved in principle, with final review now underway. Work is proceeding on an ANS Action Plan that will provide Great Lakes jurisdictions with a strengthened framework for prevention and control activities. Contact: Matt Doss, Great Lakes Commission, 734-665-9135, email@example.com.
For FY99, Congress has demonstrated variable support for National Invasive Species Act (NISA) programs.
Both the House and the Senate appropriated $1.5 million through the Energy and Water Appropriations Bill as requested by the president. These funds are allocated for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to conduct zebra mussel research. The dispersal barrier demonstration at the Chicago Shipping and Sanitary Canal received $500,000 in the House, but nothing in the Senate. The Senate provided $4.0 million for aquatic plant control research, while the House provided $2.5 million.
Mark-ups for the Commerce, Justice and State Appropriations Bill have been completed in the House and Senate. Sea Grant was level-funded at $2.8 million for ANS research in both chambers with report language requesting the study of human health risks from pathogens in ballast. The Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory was funded at $6.8 million by both chambers. The Great Lakes Fishery Commission was funded at $8.35 million by the House and $9.3 million by the Senate, with report language indicating that the additional $1 million be directed for work in the St. Marys River. The Senate allocated $1.85 million for the ANS Task Force and Ballast Water Demonstration Program with language earmarking $850,000 for ballast water research and small boat portage zebra mussel dispersion problems in the Chesapeake and Great Lakes basins including Lake Champlain.
Both the House and Senate mark-ups of the Interior Appropriation Bills allocated $1 million less than the president's request of $3.192 million for the ANS program. Transportation appropriations in both Chambers include $3.0 million for U.S. Coast Guard Ballast Water Management Program. Contact: Rochelle Sturtevant, Senate Great Lakes Task Force, 202-224-4229, firstname.lastname@example.org.
ILLINOIS: Over 250 ANS boat landing signs have been distributed along the southern margin of Lake Michigan and to state parks in both Indiana and Illinois. USFWS sampling has recovered the round goby 2.5 miles farther downstream in the Calumet system from the location detected in previous years (river mile 321). To help prevent ANS dispersal, displays discriminating between the round goby and sculpins have been distributed to baitshops around southern Lake Michigan. Contact: Mike Conlin, IL DNR, 217-782-6424, email@example.com.
MICHIGAN: The DNR, in cooperation with DEQ's Office of the Great Lakes, revised and produced 2,000 "exotics advisories" to be posted at boat launches throughout the state. The signs identify precautions for watercraft users to minimize ANS dispersal in lakes and rivers. The Office of Great Lakes promoted the need for additional research on ballast-mediated ANS invasions in the Great Lakes region and beyond during a formal review of the Cooperative Institute for Limnology and Ecosystems Research (CILER, one of nine NOAA Joint Institutes). Contact: Mark Coscarelli, MI DEQ, Office of the Great Lakes, 517-335-4227, firstname.lastname@example.org.
MINNESOTA: The DNR has adopted new rules for ANS classification based on a four-tiered system (prohibited, regulated, unregulated, and unlisted nonindigenous species) facilitating different regulatory action. The rules also prohibit the release of new (unlisted) nonindigenous species into a free-living state without review by the DNR. Contact: Jay Rendall, 612-297-1464, email@example.com.
NEW YORK: The following grant proposals were submitted to the ANS Task Force for approval: 1) the ecological consequences resulting from displacement of zebra mussels by quagga mussels, particularly in Lake Ontario; and 2) the long term bio-control potential of herbivorous weevils that feed upon Eurasian watermilfoil. The fourth year of data is being collected for the Finger Lakes Zebra Mussel Monitoring Project; and the Lake Erie Fisheries Unit is continuing its investigation of the impacts of zebra mussel colonization of lake trout spawning shoals. Contact: Bill Culligan, NYS DEC, 716-366-0228, firstname.lastname@example.org.
OHIO: The first year of implementation of the state management plan has focused on promoting awareness and understanding of ANS issues through state-wide dissemination of information/education products such as youth education "traveling trunks", brochures and ANS WATCH identification cards. A new zebra mussel logo was developed and printed on key chains, decals and litter bags. Contact: Randy Sanders, OH DNR, 614-265-6344, email@example.com.
WISCONSIN: The DNR continues to monitor inland lakes for zebra mussels. Veligers and settling adults have been detected in the southeast corner of the state. Sea Grant's web site, SGNIS, that has featured peer reviewed research on zebra mussels, has now expanded its scope to all nonindigenous aquatic species. The source of research also has expanded beyond Sea Grant to include the Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab, Waterways Experiment Station of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the U.S. Coast Guard, among others. Contact: Ron Martin, WI DNR, 608-266-9270, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Task Force met in Arlington, Va., on July 22, 1998. Topics of discussion included membership guidelines for the Task Force and ANS regional panels, future plans for the ANS Digest publication, ballast water guidelines and proposals regarding the Voluntary National Recreational Guidelines and the Green Crab Control Program. Also covered were updates on the Western Regional Panel and Great Lakes Panel.
Prior to the meeting, the Task Force gave a retirement reception for Sen. John Glenn, who is considered "the moving force" behind the passage of the Nonindigenous Aquatic Nuisance Prevention and Control Act. On behalf of the Task Force, an award was presented to the senator for his outstanding efforts in initiating federal programming on a cooperative basis for the prevention and control of ANS invasions. Contact: Bob Peoples, USFWS, 703-358-2025, email@example.com.
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