– In an effort to nip problems with invasive species early before they grow out of control, the Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) has finalized a new Aquatic Invasive Species Management General Permit. The permit is the regulatory tool that directs how chemicals or other control products may be used to manage invasive aquatic animals and invasive marine algae in state waters. The permit does not cover invasive aquatic weeds, which are covered by other permits.
Washington water quality statutes and regulations don’t allow the discharge of pollutants, such as chemicals, into waters without a permit obtained from Ecology. Once non-native species become established in a new environment where there are few natural enemies, pests, or disease to keep them in check, they may spread rapidly and cause biological and economic harm. Invasive species include aquatic plants and animals that hitchhike on ships and boats, insects that arrive on imported fruit and nursery plants, or offspring of pets that escape or are released by their owners. Invading species constantly expand their presence into Washington. While many introduced species never become a problem, others are able to out-compete and overwhelm local species, disrupting entire ecosystems.
Invasive species can threaten economic vitality of farms, orchards, fisheries, and oyster-growing industries. The species can also degrade water quality in lakes and further imperil threatened and endangered species such as salmon.
Washington state has a strategic plan for managing invasive species. For more information: www.invasivespecies.wa.gov/ The permit allows early treatment of localized infestations with a goal of eradicating or containing infestations to one area or site. State agencies must apply for coverage under this permit prior to conducting control activities for invasive aquatic animal or marine algae.
To read about the permit at Ecology’s website at: