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Rock Snot and Sea Vomit

Wednesday, April 11, 2012, Juneau, Alaska – The Alaska Dept. of Fish & Game will have new authority to swiftly deal with aquatic invasive species outbreaks, which wreak havoc in much of the Lower 48, with names like Rock Snot (Didymo) and Sea Vomit (Dvex), thanks to a bill passed by the Alaska House today.

House Resources Committee Bill 365 gives ADF&G the authority, and requires they work with the Departments of Environmental Conservation and Natural Resources to establish a coordinated plan and response to future aquatic invasive species outbreaks.

“We acted with foresight on land-born invasive species and HB 365 gives our state agencies the ability to do the same for water-born,” Resources Co-chair Paul Seaton, R-Homer, said. “We have known and documented problems near Sitka already. These aggressive, parasitic invasive species have the potential to seriously impact the mariculture industry, commercial fisheries, sport fisheries and overall ecosystem integrity.”

Didemnum vexillumis, or Dvex/Sea Vomit, was documented by state officials after infesting Whiting Harbor near Sitka.

The bill lays out steps the state can take in event of an outbreak, including rapid response, suspending certain laws or regulations to mitigate delay and to stimulate inter-agency cooperation. It defines aquatic invasive species as organisms introduced to a marine or freshwater ecosystem to which it is not native, and whose introduction causes, or is likely to cause, economic or environmental harm or harm to human health.

HB 365 now moves to the Alaska Senate for consideration.

A PowerPoint presentation by the University of Alaska Southeast’s Associate Professor of Biology, Marnie Champman, delivered to the Resources Committee is available for background informational purposes at http://video.housemajority.org/Dvex%20Presentation%20by%20UAS%201%2023%2012.pdf.

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