Aquatic Invasive Species (Annex 6)

An underwater view of invasive <em>Hydrilla</em> plants in the Erie Canal, September 2012. Credit: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
An underwater view of invasive Hydrilla plants in the Erie Canal, September 2012. Credit: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Through the Aquatic Invasive Species Annex of the 2012 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, the United States and Canada have committed to:

“… contribute to the achievement of the General and Specific Objectives of this Agreement. Through this Annex the Parties shall establish a binational strategy to prevent the introduction of Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS), to control or reduce the spread of existing AIS, and to eradicate, where feasible, existing AIS within the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem.”

Key Commitments

Canada and the United States agree to:

  • By 2015, develop and implement an early detection and rapid response initiative
  • Implement ballast water discharge programs that protect the Great Lakes basin ecosystem (see Discharges from Vessels Annex);
  • Implement programs to prevent the introduction and spread of aquatic invasive species;
  • Assess the effectiveness of aquatic invasive species prevention programs and develop and evaluate technology and methods that increase the effectiveness of control, eradication and detection efforts;
  • Determine potential aquatic invasive species habitat requirements and additional factors that would affect the establishment and spread of these species; and
  • Assess the ecosystem impacts of both established and high-risk aquatic invasive species to support rapid response and control programs.

For additional information on the focus of actions under this Annex, consult the current Priorities for Science and Action. The Priorities are based on an evaluation of the State of the Great Lakes, with input from the Great Lakes Executive Committee, participants at the Great Lakes Public Forum, and recommendations of the International Joint Commission.

Every six months, progress on this annex is reported at the Great Lakes Executive Committee meetings. Accomplishments will be described in the Progress Report of the Parties every three years, with the first expected in 2016.

Implementation

Implementation of this annex is co-led by Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. Additional participants include:

  • 1854 Treaty Authority
  • Canadian Aquatic Invasive Species Network
  • Chippewa Ottawa Resource Authority
  • Great Lakes Commission
  • Great Lakes Fishery Commission
  • Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission
  • Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative
  • Michigan Department of Environmental Quality
  • Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • New York State Department of Environmental Quality
  • Ohio Department of Natural Resources
  • Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters
  • Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry

An extended subcommittee involves additional organizations and experts beyond the GLEC membership.

As required, time-limited task teams will be created to focus efforts on a priority issue or project, and will be disbanded when work is complete. Currently, this Annex subcommittee has task teams that focus on:

Task Team Purpose
Early Detection Identify priority surveillance locations and develop a comprehensive early detection and monitoring strategy for the Great Lakes by 2015.
Pathways Risk Assessment and Management Share risk assessment/analyses processes being used, and conduct one pathway risk assessment/analysis.
Response Develop a comprehensive response plan to be implemented in the event of any newly detected aquatic invasive species. Results of any response plan exercises or actual response actions, if needed, will be summarized, and reported.
Species Risk Assessment Share species risk assessment processes being used by regulatory authorities and others, and coordinate risk assessments for a list of priority species.