Good morning. The Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife and Water will come to order.
Today the Subcommittee will be receiving testimony on S. 525, the National Aquatic Invasive Species Act. This bill would reauthorize the Non-indigenous Aquatic Nuisance Prevention and Control Act (NANPCA) of 1990, as amended by the National Invasive Species Act (NISA) of 1996.
Aquatic nuisance species have cost our nation billions of dollars in lost revenue, and costs of actions to control aquatic nuisance species to protect commerce and our environment. In many instances aquatic nuisance species enter our nation’s waterways through ship ballast water.
Many of us are familiar with the challenges that sea lamprey and zebra mussel infestations have presented to citizens in the Great Lakes area and elsewhere. We have learned that once an aquatic nuisance species gains a presence in our waterways, control costs are often high, and effectiveness is often limited. It is clearly much more cost-effective and less damaging to prevent the introduction of new aquatic nuisance species than to deal with them after they have arrived.
Aquatic nuisance species also enter our waters through other means, such as by introduction of species from the pet trade. Just last year we saw a dramatic example of the effects these kinds of introductions can have when officials discovered and were forced to try to eradicate the “snakehead” fish in eastern U.S. waterways.
In Idaho, we may have experienced the first known occurrence of New Zealand mud snail in the country in the Hagerman reach of the Snake River. Also, the State of Idaho will increase its spending to $250,000 this year trying to control the Eurasian water milfoil - an aquatic nuisance plant species that threatens to choke off waterways, affecting agriculture and recreation. If zebra mussels ever gain a foothold in the Snake River in Idaho, it could threaten a large portion of our irrigated agricultural community, as well as hydropower system and Snake River salmon recovery efforts.
We are already familiar with the impacts that other long-present invasive or nuisance species can have. For example, in significant portions of the western United States “cheat grass” is taking over native range vegetation, reducing forage and habitat value for livestock and wildlife, and causing more frequent and severe wildfires. These effects cost Americans millions of dollars a year. Cheat grass control actions have just begun, are expensive, and are not yet broadly effective. Addressing aquatic nuisance species may be even more difficult when moving waters can connect habitats without any human assistance, and detection of species may be more difficult under water than on land.
I know that our witnesses will be recommending numerous changes to this large and complex bill, however, this bill is a good starting point for addressing some critical needs. I appreciate the work the Senator Levin and the cosponsors of the bill have done. It is my hope that this subcommittee can begin working to resolve some of the issues that have been brought to our attention so that we can move swiftly to protect our economy and our environment.