Rock Snot & Sea Vomit Killers OKd by House (HB89/Seaton)
HB89 gives ADF&G powers to create multi-agency rapid response teams to protect Alaskans from aquatic invasive species
Tuesday, April 15, 2014, Juneau, Alaska – The Alaska House of Representatives today passed a bill by Rep. Paul Seaton to allow the Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game to create rapid response plans to protect Alaska from incipient outbreaks of aquatic invasive species in both fresh and salt water.
“The threat of invasive species is real,” Seaton, R-Homer and the sponsor of House Bill 89, said. “Elodea is over-running Southcentral lakes and Fairbanks, and kills fish habitat. Pike are booming in Southcentral and eating down the juvenile salmon stocks. Threats are coming from European Green Crab, Zebra Mussels, and more. House Bill 89 gives Fish and Game the tools needed to respond using multi-agency expertise and solutions. We must protect our pristine and abundant fisheries and waters.”
The bill requires ADF&G, in coordination with the Department of Environmental Conservation and the Department of Natural Resources, to establish a plan of coordination and response to an aquatic invasive species outbreak. It also gives ADF&G the authority to use chemical, biological, mechanical, or physical methods to deal with an outbreak. It allows for expedited review of response plans and directs staff to prioritize eradication over other management issues for a specific area. The bill specifies that state agencies shall consider impact to native fish species, and give due consideration to private property in taking eradication steps. A rapid response fund is also created within the state general fund.
“Protection efforts from aquatic invasive species cost our peers in the Lower 48 more than $120 billion per year,” Seaton said. “With our sheer size and biodiversity, I can’t imagine the cost should we not act before it’s too late. Currently, it takes years to plan and act. We simply don’t have that luxury anymore. HB 89 gives our biologists and experts what they need to protect our waters and native species.”
HB 89, which passed unanimously, now moves to the Alaska Senate.