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Cover image of Preventing Aquatic Species Invasions in the Mid-Atlantic: Outcome-Based Actions in Vector Management. Aquatic Invasive Species in the Mid-Atlantic Vector Workshop Findings.

Preventing Aquatic Species Invasions in the Mid-Atlantic: Outcome-Based Actions in Vector Management. Aquatic Invasive Species in the Mid-Atlantic Vector Workshop Findings.

Moser, Fredrika, and Merrill Leffler, eds. 2010. UM-SG-TS-2010-03. Pdf/web only. 31 pp.

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The plight of our nation's coastal waters has become commonplace in media reports about the environment — excess nutrients, low oxygen, contaminated sediments, and depleted fisheries have often dominated news stories. Only in the last twenty years, however, have we come to understand yet another impact to coastal systems, one that has often had devastating consequences: the introduction of uncontrollable non–native species. Through a network of pathways, diverse arrays of alien species have changed our watersheds: some have disrupted food webs and in many instances have caused irreparable harm. Executive Order 13112 defined alien species as those "whose introduction does or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health" (Executive Order 13112, 1999).

Some aquatic species introductions over time have had important social benefits, such as the intentional introduction of the Pacific oyster Crassostrea gigas and the accidental introduction of the Manila clam Venerupis philippinarum, both now the bases of major shellfish industries in the Pacific Northwest. However, most introductions, the vast majority of which are unintentional, result in few benefits to society. Management efforts to minimize the impacts of established non–native species are costly — rarely do they result in eradication, but frequently they require continuous population control, such as with the sea lamprey in the Great Lakes and Phragmites cordgrass on much of the Eastern seaboard. The most cost–effective approach, both ecologically and economically, is to prevent harmful species from being introduced into ecosystems in the first place. The principles of vector management provide such an approach — they hold much promise for reducing invasive species introductions and preventing the loss of biodiversity and the economic consequences that often follow (Ruiz and Carlton, 2003).

An integrated program of prevention through vector management aims at closing the doors as tightly as possible to harmful non–native species and offers the best prospects against preventing potential new invasions. Executive Order 13112 called for the development of management plans for "identify[ing] pathways by which invasive species are introduced and for minimizing the risk of introductions via those pathways." Towards these ends, the Mid–Atlantic Panel on Aquatic Invasive Species organized a workshop in December 2009 that brought together distinguished scientists and policy leaders from across the country to discuss the research, management, education and public engagement challenges — and opportunities — for developing an action–based vector management framework to prevent new exotic species introductions.

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