Aquatic Nuisance Species Q&A
What are Aquatic Nuisance Species?
Aquatic Nuisance Species (ANS) are aquatic plants or animals that have been introduced outside of their native range which cause or have the potential to cause significant ecological, economic, aesthetic, human health, and/or recreational harm. ANS are considered invasive, so they are also commonly referred to as Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS).
How are ANS moved outside their native range?
The spread of ANS typically occurs due to human activity via boats, trailers, bait buckets, water gardens, or the aquarium industry. Many of these species are introduced unintentionally into new areas, but intentional introductions are far too common by well-meaning, but uninformed individuals. For example, when a non-native plant or animal originally acquired for a water garden or aquarium is no longer desired, they are often released into our public waters. This is not only illegal but also jeopardizes our native aquatic species due to predation and/or competition for food or habitat.
Why are ANS a concern for Alabama?
Alabama is blessed with an abundance of native aquatic species. In fact, Alabama ranks number one in the United States for the number of freshwater fish, crayfish, snail, mussel, and turtle species. ANS can threaten the existence of these native species, and many are already considered at risk. Unfortunately, Alabama ranks third among all states for the number of threatened and endangered species. ANS also negatively impacts the quality of Alabama’s numerous sport fisheries, which generated a recent estimate of $463.5 million in annual revenue.
What ANS currently exist in Alabama?
A few examples of ANS that have already created problems in Alabama are Silver Carp, Bighead Carp, Common Carp, Red Shiner, Blueback Herring, Zebra Mussel, Island Apple Snail, Corbicula clam, Virile Crayfish, Rusty Crayfish, Alligatorweed, Common Salvinia, Giant Salvinia, Hydrilla, Eurasian Watermilfoil, Water Hyacinth, Cuban Bulrush, Water Lettuce, and Lyngbya blue-green algae.
What is the State of Alabama doing to combat the ANS problem?
In 2021, the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF) received federal approval for the Alabama Aquatic Nuisance Species Management Plan. The approval of this plan means Alabama is currently eligible to receive approximately $100,000 annually to combat ANS. WFF already receives annual apportionments of federal funding to fight invasive Asian carp within the Tennessee River basin.
How you can assist in preventing future ANS problems?
Plants or animals should never be released into Alabama public waters, especially those that are not native to our state. Boats, motors, trailers, and other related gear should always be checked thoroughly for the presence of aquatic plants and animals after removal from the water. All foreign matter should be thoroughly cleaned from equipment prior to launching a boat at a different location. After fishing, never release any live bait into lakes and rivers where they did not originate. All accumulated water should be drained from the boat, motor, live well, etc. prior to leaving the boat launch.
How should ANS issues be reported and where can additional information be found?
Sightings or information about ANS issues in Alabama should be reported to: [email protected]
Additional information, including Alabama’s ANS Management Plan can be found at: https://www.outdooralabama.com/research/aquatic-nuisance-species-management-plan