Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Spread of key aquatic invasive species slowed in 2007-2008

Anglers’, boaters’ compliance with rules help efforts

MADISON – Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Secretary Matt Frank today announced a new report shows the spread of key aquatic invasive species has slowed in recent years and, thus far, VHS fish disease hasn’t spread. June is designated as Invasive Species Awareness Month in Wisconsin (exit DNR) and the report indicates efforts to raise awareness about invasive species, and increase efforts to fight their spread, is paying off. The 2007-2008 Aquatic Invasive Species Report is available on the DNR Web site.

“This is great news in the fight against aquatic invasive species,” Frank said. “Under Governor Doyle’s leadership, Wisconsin has made strong efforts to slow the spread of aquatic invasive species. While our work is paying off by slowing their spread, there is much more work to be done.”

Doyle tripled the funding to fight aquatic invasive species in his last budget, stepping up Wisconsin efforts to address one of the state’s top two water quality challenges.

“There is reason for optimism. The report shows the vast majority of Wisconsin waters are still free from the most problematic species, and we had no new waters with VHS,” Secretary Frank said. “A key reason for our optimism is the willingness of anglers and boaters to take simple step to help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.”

In 2007-2008, the years the report covers, there were half as many waters reported with new infestations of zebra mussels and Eurasian water milfoil as had been reported in the previous two years. Anglers and boaters have taken steps to keep lakes, rivers and fish healthy. Local and state partners have worked to increase awareness of prevention steps to fight the spread of invasive species.

The state is acting on other fronts to curb the flow of invasive species to Wisconsin. The state Natural Resources Board recently approved a new framework for classifying invasive species and providing preventive measures to control their spread. The DNR is currently reviewing public comments to its proposed ballast water discharge permit aimed at reducing the invasive plants, animals and pathogens that arrive in Wisconsin waters.

More than 180 nonnative fish, plants, insects and organisms have entered the Great Lakes since the early 1800s, disrupting the food chain, fouling beaches, clogging infrastructure and costing citizens, industry and businesses more than $200 million a year.

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