Since the European colonization of North America, a large number of nonindigenous species have been introduced into the United States as a result of human activities. In the past decade, several nonindigenous aquatic species, including the zebra mussel, ruffe and Asian clam, have been unintentionally introduced into the United States with substantial, immediate effects on human activities and the receiving ecosystems. The rate of introductions into the Great Lakes has increased with the expansion of human population and development in the Basin.

In response to the zebra mussel infestation and other concerns about nonindigenous aquatic species introductions, the Nonindigenous Aquatic Nuisance Prevention and Control Act (Act, 16 U.S.C. 4701-4741) was enacted in 1990. It provides an intergovernmental mechanism for the development of a cooperative national program to:
• reduce the risk of or prevent the unintentional introduction and dispersal of nonindigenous aquatic species that may be nuisances;
• ensure prompt detection of the presence of and monitor changes in the distribution of nonindigenous aquatic species; and
• control established aquatic nuisance species in a cost-effective, environmentally-sound manner.

An Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force (Task Force) co-chaired by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration was established to coordinate governmental efforts related to nonindigenous aquatic species in the United States with those of the private sector and other North American interests. The Task Force consists of seven Federal agency representatives and eight ex officio members appointed by the Co-chairs to represent non-Federal governmental entities.

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