State Management Plan for Aquatic Invasive Species in Louisiana

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Executive Summary
Even in the time it has taken to write this management plan, new bioinvaders have surfaced: Peruvian watergrass has emerged as a new threat to the wetlands near Lake Charles, and black carp, a potential threat to native shellfish, have been discovered in the Red River. This highlights the urgency for action in addressing invasive species in Louisiana.

The Task Force, led by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, submits this State Management Plan for Aquatic Invasive Species in Louisiana, to (1) describe the nature and extent of this environmental problem, which afflicts Louisiana to a degree far greater than most other states, and (2) propose specific management actions to minimize negative impacts. This living document is Louisiana’s first state management plan for invasive species, and one of the first in the region.

Situated at the crossroads of major transportation routes, Louisiana decided that its invasive species state management plan should reflect this geographically distinguishing characteristic. That is, the plan emphasizes how these species arrived here and spread, because these geographical factors inform how invasive species may be controlled and managed. The following pathways and media of concern are described herein:
  • Shipping
  • Recreational Boating and Fishing
  • Transportation corridors (highways, waterways, railroads)
  • River Diversions
  • Ballast water, fouling, and dunnage
  • Deliberate horticultural introductions
  • Deliberate aquaculture introductions
  • Deliberate sportfishing introductions
  • Deliberate pet and aquarium introductions
The Task Force also recognized the utility of understanding this problem at the species level, because some management actions are most effective when targeted at particular species rather than certain geographical features. The following species of concern are described herein:
  • Water hyacinth
  • Chinese tallow tree
  • Parrot feather
  • Hydrilla
  • Wild taro
  • Brazilian waterweed
  • Eurasian watermilfoil
  • Water lettuce
  • Common salvinia
  • Giant salvinia
  • Cogongrass
  • Purple loosestrife
  • “Cylindro,” a blue-green algae
  • Rio Grande cichlid
  • Common carp
  • Grass carp
  • Silver carp
  • Bighead carp
  • Black carp
  • Tilapia
  • Asian clam
  • Zebra mussel
  • Brown mussel
  • Green mussel
  • Channeled apple snail
  • Nutria
  • Feral hogs
  • Red imported fire ant
  • Formosan termite
  • Asian tiger mosquito
  • Africanized honeybee
  • Australian spotted jellyfish
  • Daphnia lumholtzi, a water flea
  • Chinese mitten crab
  • Green crab
  • Various viruses, bacteria, and other microbes
The goal of this state management plan is to prevent and control the introduction of new nonindigenous species into Louisiana; to control the spread and impact of existing invasive species; and to eradicate locally established invasive species wherever possible. It endeavors to do this through five objectives:
  1. Coordinate all AIS management activities or programs within Louisiana and collaborate with regional, national, and international AIS programs.
  2. Prevent and control the introduction/reintroduction of nonindigenous invasive species through education about species and pathways, targeting the general public (including schools), industries and user groups, government agencies, and nongovernmental organizations.
  3. Eliminate locally established invasive species through monitoring, early detection, rapid response, and early eradication.
  4. Control the spread of established invasive species through cooperative management activities designed to minimize impacts when eradication is impossible.
  5. Prevent the introduction of non-native species, or the spread of existing ones, through legislation and regulation.
The plan identifies specific management actions geared toward resolving this problem, of which some are partially or fully funded, and others remain unfunded. Examples of ongoing, funded management activities in Louisiana are:
  • the Nuisance Aquatic Plant Control program (ongoing water hyacinth, hydrilla, and other invasive plant removal from wetlands and bayous);
  • the nutria bounty program; and
  • development of a “Citizen’s Guide to Invasive Species in Louisiana” for outreach purposes.
Priority unfunded management actions are listed below and include the development of a statewide Rapid Response and Early Eradication Plan.

The purpose of the State Management Plan for Aquatic Invasive Species in Louisiana is to coordinate and support all state invasive species efforts from a single node under conditions of collaboration and full communication, rather than from dispersed, uncoordinated locales susceptible to duplications or gaps in effort. Not only does such a planning effort improve the efficacy of field actions, it also opens doors to funding opportunities for the proposed actions. Cooperation among the Task Force members (drawn from nine state entities, six federal agencies, four universities, six stakeholder groups, and four industry representatives) was key to the development of this management plan, and will be even more critical to its execution.

In spring 2004, Task Force members Senator Gerald Theunnissen and Representative Wilfred Pierre co-sponsored a bill in the legislature that called for the creation of the Louisiana Aquatic Invasive Species (LAIS) Council and Advisory Task Force to implement this management plan. The bill passed both the House and Senate, and was signed into law by Governor Kathleen Blanco.

The LAIS Task Force recommends to the future Council these management actions:
  • Hire staff to administer the LAIS Council and Advisory Task Force;
  • Develop a Rapid Response and Early Eradication Plan;
  • Assess Louisiana ports and waterways for invasive species.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and the Louisiana Aquatic Invasive Species Task Force recommend the approval of this plan by the Governor of Louisiana so that implementation may commence.