Great Lakes Commission shares lessons learned from fight against internet sales of aquatic invasive species

Jul 12, 2022 | News and Announcements

Ann Arbor, Mich. – The Great Lakes Commission (GLC) today released a report on the second phase of its work to stop internet sales of aquatic invasive species (AIS) in the Great Lakes region. The GLC initiative, known as the Great Lakes Detector of Invasive Aquatics in Trade (GLDIATR), demonstrated that “web crawling” applications can be used to track the online sale of priority AIS and support the work of AIS researchers, outreach coordinators, managers, and law enforcement officials across the Great Lakes basin.

More than 185 nonnative aquatic species are currently established in the Great Lakes, and more are threatening to enter, including through a pathway known as organisms in trade – unintentional or intentional releases of animals and plants via the aquarium trade, nursery and water garden outlets, aquaculture, and the bait industry. Stopping the spread of AIS via this pathway is complicated by internet sales of organisms.

In 2010, the GLC started the GLDIATR effort to combat the trade of AIS over the internet. In phase two of the project, recently completed, the project team used different web crawlers to gather information on the availability of priority and high-risk AIS via online sales. More than 52,000 webpages were collected, which resulted in the identification of 299 sellers of AIS. The findings included websites in over 40 states and provinces, of which 67 sellers were found to reside in the Great Lakes region.

To help facilitate behavior change, the GLC worked with an advisory committee to reach out to identified sellers. The GLC was able to confirm a behavior change in 42 sellers following outreach (i.e., the seller was no longer selling the species of concern, or added additional shipping restrictions to their listing).

“The Great Lakes remain far too vulnerable to the introduction and spread of aquatic invasive species, which are a huge ecological and economic threat to the region,” said Todd L. Ambs, chair of the GLC. “To combat this threat in 2022, we need new and innovative approaches like those explored by our GLDIATR project. The Great Lakes Commission is excited to share lessons learned and looks forward to working with our partners on this work in the future.”

For more information on the GLC’s work to stop aquatic invasive species in the Great Lakes basin, visit

The Great Lakes Commission, led by chair Todd L. Ambs, deputy secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (retired), is a binational government agency established in 1955 to protect the Great Lakes and the economies and ecosystems they support. Its membership includes leaders from the eight U.S. states and two Canadian provinces in the Great Lakes basin. The GLC recommends policies and practices to balance the use, development, and conservation of the water resources of the Great Lakes and brings the region together to work on issues that no single community, state, province, or nation can tackle alone. Learn more at


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