Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Who is to Blame for Aquatic Invasive Species?

Across North America, a wide range of opinions exist concerning aquatic invasive species and the threats they pose to ecosystems.

In response to these threats, a number of government agencies have gotten involved in the war against aquatic invasive species.

Although science and research are valuable assets in the war against aquatic invasive species, information can be subject to misinterpretation.

One such example occurred in Maryland USA in 2011. Acting in response to the spread of didymo, an invasive algae, the state banned felt soled waders and other footwear.

While there is no doubt that felt soled waders can harbor the algae, the evidence which proves that anglers' boots are the sole source of  the spread of didymo is non-existent.

Even if the extermination of felt soled waders can be achieved, blue herons, raccoons and countless other bare footed creatures will continue to migrate from stream to stream as they have done for thousands of years.

The regulation is pointless. It serves only to divide anglers and law enforcement officials and create a sense of false security. Didymo, like other invasive species will require a culture change in order to combat. These changes cannot be achieved by creating a myriad of regulations that serve no practical purpose.

Meanwhile, Maryland and other states continue stocking their waters with non-native species of fish. While these programs promote outdoor recreation and may have cultural value, the environmental impacts are not always positive.

Hopefully federal and state agencies will review existing practices and discontinue those that have potential to harm native environments.

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