Published: September 2022
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW; Department) serves Washington’s citizens by preserving, protecting, and perpetuating fish, wildlife and ecosystems while providing sustainable fish and wildlife recreational and commercial opportunities. In order to support WDFW’s mission in addressing these major environmental issues, the Aquatic Invasive Species Unit (AISU) and Department programs are tasked with preventing the introduction of, and early detection monitoring of, terrestrial and aquatic invasive species transported into or spread within the state through various pathways.
Invasive species (IS) pose an exceptional risk to native flora and fauna and to many industries in Washington State including agricultural, hydroelectric, and recreational. Across the globe, adverse ecological interactions between IS and native species as well as negative impacts on the trade and commerce of regulated non-native species due to the presence of IS have been well documented. The Department is committed to minimizing these threats to the state’s ecosystem and economy that stem from the introduction and spread of IS.
This document establishes protocols for Department employees engaged in activities that may place them in direct or indirect contact with known and unknown IS, or that might otherwise cause or contribute to the introduction or spread of IS. The protocols have been developed in consultation with the Washington Invasive Species Council, Washington Department of Transportation, Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, and the U.S. Geological Survey. Although directed towards Department employees, these protocols are often adopted by other local, state, and federal agencies, tribes, and non-profit organizations.
B. Policy Background
Policy 5310, Managing Invasive Species, commits the Department to “adopt and actively maintain science-based protocols for minimizing the risk that field and property management activities will contribute to the spread of invasive species.” The procedural accompaniment to the policy (Procedure 5310) established an Invasive Species Management Committee (ISMC) and assigned to the ISMC responsibility for developing IS introduction and spread prevention protocols. The AISU is responsible for implementing and updating the protocols, ensuring that IS information is disseminated in a timely manner, and that any necessary training needed to comply with the protocols is made available to Department employees and other entities as resources allow.
C. Adaptive Management
The AISU relies upon best available science to develop prevention protocols. Few published protocols offer safe and effective prevention over broad suites of IS, and the effects of protocols known to be successful at preventing the introduction or spread of some species may remain untested or poorly understood for others. The AISU will keep abreast of relevant scientific developments and use adaptive management to update or otherwise alter existing IS prevention protocols when indicated. Where knowledge of safe and effective IS prevention measures remain incomplete or altogether lacking, experimental efforts aimed at developing novel prevention approaches may be implemented. Any such experiments will be informed, designed, and evaluated for efficacy using the best available science. Further, the AISU will remain vigilant, responsive, and sensitive to any prevention implementation issues that may arise.
D. Implementation Timeline
Some protocols can be followed at little or no additional cost to the Department and with minimal impact to existing field operations. For instance, a simple three step process known as Clean, Drain, and Dry is the nationally recognized standard technique for inhibiting the introduction and spread of AIS by vessel transport. The Clean Drain Dry process is consistent with existing statewide statutory prohibitions against transporting aquatic plants, noxious weeds, and prohibited aquatic animal species. It can be employed with minimal, if any, additional cost in dollars or time and should be implemented immediately. Other protocols may require more substantial changes to current practices including increased costs for training or greater capital investments in containment and decontamination equipment. Those protocols may take more time to implement; however, directed efforts toward full implementation should begin as soon as possible.