Interrupting the Flow: A Northeast Regional Sea Grant Education and Outreach Collaborative Addressing Vectors of Marine Invasive Species Introductions in the Northeast Region

PI: Chrys Chryssostomidis, MIT Sea Grant, Judith Pederson, MIT Sea Grant

Project Number:2005-R/RC-100-REG

Start Date:2005-06-01End Date:2007-05-31

Proposal Summary

Objectives: The goals of this proposal are to transfer information about vectors to appropriate users to raise awareness and modify risky behaviors that will aid in preventing, reducing, or minimizing the spread of non native marine species region wide. Specific objectives are (1) to develop and distribute outreach and education materials for three non-shipping vectors, e.g. marine bait industry, live and fresh seafood industry, and recreation divers; (2) to develop materials for two vessel related vectors, e.g. hull fouling of recreational boaters and regional ballast water managers; and (3) to work with the diving community to increase awareness and develop a volunteer driven monitoring program.

Methodology: The program will draw upon the Northeast Sea Grant Extensions Network and Salem Sound Coastwatch to form a regional collaborative. The Collaborative's collective expertise and the established track records of the Sea Grant Programs in addressing marine invasive species issues will lead to a cohesive and cooperative region approach to outreach and education applications that are focused of specific vectors. The strength of out effort lies in the distribution of the work load and products across the various entities in the Collaborative. Pederson will be responsible for the overall coordination, (e.g. convene meetings of the Collaborative, set up conference calls, establish an internet access for Collaborative communication, and prepare reports). For each section of the effort. we have identified two or more individuals to lead the development of the proposed activities and products for each section that, in turn, may be used by all Northeast states with potential application for other U.S. coastal states.

Rationale: The snakehead fish, zebra and quagga musselss and sea lampreys have captured the interest of the media, the public and regulators, but marine invasive species are often out of sight and out of mind. But there is reason for alarm and at lead one new species is raising awareness like never before. The new, highly aggressive sea squirt (Didemnum sp.) that is found in the productive gravel beds of Georges Bank and in nearshore subtidal areas threatens fisheries and ecosystems. Ballast water and other shipping vectors are responsible for many introductions, but other pathways, such as recreation divers and boaters, bait industry and live and fresh seafood are also sources of non indigenous species. Several non shipping vectors that may introduce marine species have been identified are efforts have been made to quantify the relative importance of these vectors. The challenge before us is to identify ways to reduce introductions of non indigenous aquatic species from the sources identified above, many of which involve focusing on changes in human behavior, to preserve our marine ecosystems.

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