Gillibrand proposes invasive species legislation

Jul 18, 2016

The issue of invasive species threatening the region’s waterways is getting more attention. U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, along with other state and local officials, gathered at Buffalo's Outer Harbor Monday to announce federal legislation aimed at preventing invasive species from entering the Great Lakes.

“New invasive species are being discovered in New York’s waters all the time,” Gillibrand said. “They harm our water supply they hurt our food industry and they ultimate have a harmful effect on human health.”

Zebra mussel
Credit U.S. Geological Survey

Currently, a harmful species can be labeled as “injurious” after it has already been introduced to the environment. The Invasive Fish and Wildlife Prevention Act would allow federal agencies to  designate potentially harmful species as “injurious” before they enter the environment.

Jon Allan, chair of the Great Lakes Commission, said in a prepared statement, “The current system too often focuses on managing or regulating species only after they have been imported and begun spreading, as has occurred with devastating results in the case of Asian carp throughout the Mississippi River system. ... The Great Lakes Commission has consistently advocated for strengthened federal laws to prevent their further spread and the introduction of new species."

More than 200 species have been designated as injurious in the United States. Some, such as the zebra mussel, are found in the Great Lakes.