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Action Plan

A Governance and Biosecurity Framework for AIS in Commerce in North America

Criteria used to prioritize actions in this framework include:

  • The action addresses a key challenge

  • The action is timely

  • The action is implementable

  • The action would likely be effective

  • There are resources available to implement

  • Political will within the agencies and the states exist to implement

Word version of the action plan can be accessed here.
There are 30 Tier 1High Priority strategies and an additional 41 Tier 2 strategies.
Action Plan Purpose: To develop an action plan that incorporates best management practices, voluntary codes of conduct, and enhanced outreach and regulatory mechanisms that help to ensure the continuance of the plant and animal trade while minimizing transport and spread of aquatic invasive species in North America. [Note: Timeline: (S) 1-2 yrs, (M) 2-5 yrs, (L) 5+ yrs]
Accessible Information

Goal: There is readily available access to updated and accurate information on aquatic organisms in trade in North America.


Voluntary Industry Practices

Goal: Voluntary Industry Practices and Protocols lessen the spread of AIS and are widely accepted, used, and promoted by industry.


* State-specific analysis, ** Outreach to states and implementation

Legal Authorities

Goal: An effective regulatory and compliance framework exists to enhance governance in AIS in Commerce.


Record Requirements

Goal: Accurate information on aquatic organisms in trade species in commerce is routinely collected, shared, and tracked in easily accessible formats.


Knowledgeable Consumers

Goal: Consumer behavior reflects sound knowledge and awareness of aquatic invasive species in commerce.


Collaborative Interdiction

Goal: Agencies work collaboratively and effectively in partnership to invest in and address the highest priority contributions to AIS in Commerce.


Resources and Capacity

Goal: Sufficient resources and capacity exist at the federal, provincial, and state levels to participate and engage effectively in AIS in Commerce interdiction actions.


Tier 2 Strategies - The 2nd highest suite of priorities based on the criteria at the top of this page:

Accessible Information

AI6. Compile lists of existing networks, including enforcement, shippers, importers, trans-shippers, wholesalers, retailers, and others engaged in aquatic organisms in trade. Develop protocols for maintaining updated information.

AI7. Raise awareness about common names used to identify species by creating an online database by species and providing one or more common names associated with those species.

AI8. Deliver messaging on AIS impacts and risks, and develop an online decision support tool that helps businesses evaluate AIS risk. Improve business awareness of pet advocacy organizations and encourage businesses to offer less invasive alternatives.

AI9. Expand the searchable centralized database of U.S. experts (taxa experts, state authorities, and other professionals (project by USFWS and USGS) to include Canada.

AI10. Where possible, explain aquatic organisms in trade-associated regulations using infographics, case studies, etc. and make these available online. List all applicable state and provincial regulations in a clear manner to help platform companies explain to the public why products are no longer sold.

AI11. Create an international database of licenses required for entities to engage in aquatic organisms in trade in each state, province, nationally, and internationally.

AI12. Document and share occurrence and frequency of companies that ship products with unintended species.

Voluntary Practices

VIP10. Implement geographic blocks of sales for high-risk and illegal species, particularly on large eCommerce platforms.

VIP11. Develop a voluntary retail store recognition that the store does not sell invasive species based on regional criteria (e.g., results of a check of the stock list).

VIP12. Encourage SWAP meeting/more informal hobbyist events to be sponsored by industry-led groups.

VIP13. Clarify terminology, roles, and responsibilities associated with trans-shippers.

VIP14. Encourage rehoming efforts through local businesses, private organizations, nature centers, zoos, aquaria, and other locations to hold animals until exotic animal rescue can assist.

VIP15. Create and promote case studies of successful programs to share with other jurisdictions. Document 5-10 successful programs and promote on website, share with other websites, social media, etc.

Legal Authorities

LA5. Harmonize and mandate common licensing/registration for entities engaged in aquatic organisms in trade.

LA6. Enact regulations to ensure aquatic organisms in trade species are properly labeled prior to shipment, including requirements for shippers to provide more species-specific identification in shipments.

LA7. Create state-by-state and province-by province statutes to be able to prosecute sales of species that are legal in the originating state/province and illegal in the destination state (assumes accurate id of animal/plant).   

LA8. Mandate phytosanitary requirements for all aquatic plant imports in Canada. Note: CFIA requires phytosanitary certificates on terrestrial plants, but not aquatic plants.

LA9. Mandate skill licensing, similar to the European Union, to regulate private/basement retailers and identify industry participants.

LA10. Enact regulations that address the lack of liability for online marketplaces.

LA11. Incorporate into a regulatory framework legal requirement for “middleman” sales.

Record Requirements

RR4. Develop a comprehensive set of protocols to ensure proper labeling of species at retail locations, and for importers, distributors, and breeders by surveying a percentage of these entities to draft a recommended suite of labeling protocols.

RR5. Develop BMPs associated with aquatic organisms in trade (and AIS), including information and data standards for interoperability and sharing as well as consistent definitions and terms.

RR6. Assess, catalog, and share successful examples of good labeling and recordkeeping practices (e.g., species names). Examine and provide a model based upon plant supply regulatory and non-regulatory labeling, reporting, and record keeping efforts.

Knowledgeable Consumers

KC5. Develop the framework for a clearinghouse/portal, share beta portal with regulatory and other groups to ensure accurate information is portrayed, and develop protocols for maintaining updated information.

KC6. Create, implement, and promote marketing campaigns highlighting responsible sourcing (Habitattitude, etc.). 

KC7. Provide hobby clubs with information and tools to share that raise awareness for homing options.

​KC8. Implement a communications and outreach plan to enhance appreciation, understanding, awareness, and support for a knowledgeable public, businesses, policy makers, and others relative to AIS in Commerce.[1]

KC9. Implement a consistent, high-profile outreach campaign on aquatic plants and animals in trade, including life history needs, legal issues, risks caused by trade, and deliver in a variety of formats.

Collaborative Interdiction

CI4. Determine how best networks, including regulatory networks, intersect and have the potential for collaboration and cooperation. Navigate issues associated with private data and information.

CI5. Enhance agency coordination for interjurisdictional import and export of aquatic plants and animals by examining authorities and roles to identify areas of duplication and gaps.

CI6. Identify methods to create information sharing and collaboration among agencies, including methods to share records across agencies (UFL - gap analysis on authorities ongoing; OSU - after action report; NISC – coordination)

CI7. Improve communication among retailers and inspectors when shipments are seized (e.g., purpose of seizure, length of time shipment will be seized before resolution, ability of retailers to verify seized aquatic plants and animals, etc.).

CI8. Allow importers and retailers to provide input during inspection of shipments for better understanding and identification of species.

CI9. Identify all pathways and actions that contribute to AIS in Commerce on a regular basis.

CI10. Support/network with groups monitoring social media platforms for AIS in Commerce issues, connecting them with regulatory agencies upon discovery.

CI11.  Use and promote/expand existing incentive programs that reward public reporting of violations on e-commerce platforms.

Resources and Capacity

RC3. Develop one-pagers or toolkits to assist state agencies with making AIS in Commerce position funding asks at the state level; and one-pager for executive level staff to make them aware of the issue to support dedicated AIS investigative staff.

RC4. Develop continuing education programming/training (modules) for law enforcement officials to assist with identification and other AIS issues, such as understanding the industry (how funds are transferred, who is associated with whom, regulations confirmation, how species are transported, give them tools and show them how to use them - continual learning, etc.). 

RC5. Create recognition/awards for officers investing into AIS in Commerce investigations to spotlight attention to these issues (versus traditional hook-and-bullet investigations), making it more mainstream for officers to work on these issues. 

RC6. Improve the consistency, quality, and scope of training agency employees receive to improve the ability of inspectors to identify and adequately address AIS in Commerce. Ensure training improves the ability of agency staff to distinguish species, conduct inspections, implement risk assessment protocols, recognize common names of species, and communicate with retailers about the status of seized shipments.   Develop, train in the use of, and use tools to distinguish species, including the ability to identify early life, juvenile, and adult stages. Develop and share inspection and risk assessment protocols.

RC7. Fund invasive species councils/appropriate regional entities that are already creating education programs to create targeted e-learning, potentially expanding their education programs, including developing modules for law enforcement training (recognition that there are significant differences among the states in the roles that invasive species councils play). 

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