BROCKPORT, NY, - Here on the quiet campus of SUNY College at Brockport, minutes from Lake Ontario, the invasion of exotic plants and animals that is causing more that $120 billion damage to America's aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, and is threatening its agricultural and fisheries resources, is being documented systematically.
Sea Grant's National Zebra Mussel and Aquatic Nuisance Species Clearinghouse, operated by New York Sea Grant, is a unique information source for researchers, aquatic resource managers and the media interested in the spread, impact and control of the invasive species addressed in last week's (2/3/99) executive order signed by President Clinton.
The executive order directs the U.S. Commerce, Interior and Agriculture Departments to cooperate in controlling the threat of non-native invasive species. The President's fiscal year 2000 budget calls for $28.8 million to be allocated to combat such invasive exotics as zebra mussels, purple loosestrife and naval shipworms through a new interagency Invasive Species Council, co-chaired by the secretaries of the three departments.
The federal government currently spends about $4.5 million annually on invasive species. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of the Commerce Department and Interior's U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are the point agencies in the fight to control non-native plants and animals with a focus on aquatic organisms. The National Sea Grant Program, part of NOAA, supported $2.8 million in coastal research and public education on nuisance species in FY1998 and anticipates spending approximately $3 million in FY1999. Says National Sea Grant College Program Director, Ronald C. Baird, "Sea Grant has recognized for over a decade the significant impact, both economically and ecologically, that aquatic nonindigenous species have and continue to have on our country."
According to Chuck O'Neill, Director of the Sea Grant National Clearinghouse, the Clearinghouse is the home of North America's most extensive library of publications related to aquatic nuisance species. Material available at the Clearinghouse provides information on zebra mussels and Asian clams which foul electric power, industrial and public drinking water intakes, as well as the Eurasian ruffe, the round goby, the tube-nosed goby, the rudd, the spiny water flea and the blueback herring, all of which wreak ecologic and economic havoc throughout the Great Lakes and other freshwater resources of North America. Over 2,100 resources are available for reference.
"While our library is now heavily weighted toward freshwater invasive species, we are in the process of including a number of very important marine organisms as well," said O'Neill. The Clearinghouse is adding publications on the Atlantic green crab and the Chinese mitten crab (both of which are having major impacts on the shoreline and fisheries of the Pacific Coast), the Amur River Corbula (a new resident of San Francisco Bay consuming its phytoplankton daily), the Grass carp, the Suminoe oyster (a recent introduction to Chesapeake Bay), shipworms (which are causing major damage to wooden piers in New York Harbor), the brown mussel (a new Gulf of Mexico resident), the predatory "fishhook" waterflea and other invasive aquatic nuisance species.
Sea Grant's National Zebra Mussel and Aquatic Nuisance Species Clearinghouse was established in 1990 in an effort to facilitate the sharing of invasive aquatic nuisance species information among all levels of university, government and private industry throughout North America. "We are the place for scientists, resource managers, government officials and other decision-makers to get information on these unwelcome new residents," says O'Neill. "The Clearinghouse provides for the timely dissemination of findings of invasive aquatic nuisance species research, and facilitates technology transfer between researchers and audiences who need that information."
Funding for the Clearinghouse is provided by the National Sea Grant College Program, public and private electric generation and drinking water treatment utilities, private industry, state and provincial agencies and other interested parties throughout North America.
Convenient access to the Clearinghouse's extensive technical library is available via the World Wide Web at::
Included on the Website are a series of charted maps showing the rate and range of spread of two major aquatic pests - the zebra mussel, quagga mussel - since their introduction into North America.
The Clearinghouse also can be reached by: Telephone: 716.395.2516; Fax: 716.395.2466; or by E-mail: [email protected]
The above story is based on materials provided by National Sea Grant. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.
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