Invasive Species Advocacy

The Great Lakes Commission advocates for strong, sustained actions to prevent the introduction and spread of aquatic invasive species, which threaten the health of the lakes and the benefits they provide for the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River community.

2018 Legislative Request

Aquatic invasive species (AIS) are one of the most significant threats to the environmental and economic health of the Great Lakes. Strong federal leadership and coordination with state agencies is needed to advance comprehensive efforts to prevent the introduction and spread of AIS from all pathways.

The president and Congress should provide funding for successful programs, including the national task force, regional panels and state management plans established under the National Invasive Species Act, and the Great Lakes Fishery Commission’s sea lamprey control program. Federal agencies should use existing authorities like the Lacey Act to identify and restrict the importation of harmful non-native species.

Efforts to combat the destructive spread of Asian carp across the United States and prevent their establishment in the Great Lakes region must include federal funding for the Asian Carp Action Plan and the National Asian Carp Management and Control Plan. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers should complete the Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study to prevent all AIS transfer between the Mississippi River and Great Lakes watersheds.

The above legislative request is included as part of the Great Lakes Commission 2018 Legislative Priorities: An Agenda for Great Lakes Restoration and Economic Revitalization (Presented to the 115th Congress: March 2018)


Progress is being made to reduce threats of new invasions and the damage from species already introduced, including successful efforts like the Great Lakes Fishery Commission’s Sea Lamprey Control program. However, the Great Lakes region remains vulnerable to AIS introductions from various pathways. Asian carp are just the latest example of this national problem. Preventing new invasive species introductions and controlling those already present is a priority for regional leaders and should be a priority for Congress and federal agencies.

The National Invasive Species Act established an effective federal framework for coordinating AIS prevention and control through the national Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force and six regional AIS panels. This program also supports state efforts by providing funding to implement state management plans for AIS prevention and control. These programs, administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), ensure resources are used effectively.

The USFWS also leads federal efforts to prevent harmful species from being introduced via the trade in live animals under provisions of the Lacey Act. The agency should continue using these existing authorities to identify and restrict the importation of potentially harmful non-native species. Legislation is also being considered that would strengthen these authorities.

Important monitoring, research and control efforts to stop the spread of invasive Asian carp are being implemented by federal and state partners under the Asian Carp Action Plan. These efforts must continue in close coordination with Illinois and the other Great Lakes states. The Army Corps of Engineers’ Brandon Road Feasibility Study will provide a plan for establishing a single point to control one-way, upstream AIS transfer from the Mississippi River basin into the Great Lakes basin near the Brandon Road Lock and Dam in Joliet, Illinois. A comprehensive, long-term solution to prevent all AIS from transferring between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River watersheds is still needed. The Chicago Area Waterway System Advisory Committee recommended further study of a system of possible control points in Chicago-area waterways to prevent AIS transfer while considering impacts on flooding, water quality, recreation and barge transportation in northeast Illinois and northwest Indiana.

For More Information

Matt Doss
Policy Director
Great Lakes Commission
[email protected]

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