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MEDIA RELEASE
March 5, 2003

IJC commends introduction of
National Aquatic Invasive Species Act

The International Joint Commission (IJC) commends the introduction into the U.S. Congress of the National Aquatic Invasive Species Act (NAISA).

While by practice the IJC does not comment on specific provisions in domestic legislative proposals, it has identified the need for urgent federal action to address aquatic invasive species, the leading threat to the biological integrity of the Great Lakes ecosystem.

"This is an ambitious bill," said Dennis Schornack, chair of the IJC's U.S. Section. "Successfully addressing the full scope of issues it contains would represent major progress toward closing the doors to biological invaders while keeping the doors open for maritime commerce."

"The IJC is encouraged by the attention given to Aquatic Invasive Species by the U.S. Congress and looks forward to similar legislative initiatives in Canada," stated Canadian Section Chair Herb Gray.

The bill introduced today would focus on prevention, screening, response, research and coordination with neighboring countries. The legislation asks the U.S. Government to negotiate with Canada on directing the IJC to study laws and enforcement practices on both sides of the border and recommend means to improve and harmonize the policies and enforcement practices.

The IJC has called on the Governments of the United States and Canada to coordinate actions in taking more aggressive steps to end the invasion of alien species to the Great Lakes basin ecosystem in its 11th Biennial Report on Great Lakes Water Quality and in a February 11, 2003 appearance before the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans of the Canadian House of Commons. The full text of the 11th Biennial Report and the Commissioners presentations to the Standing Committee are available at www.ijc.org.

Contacts:

Frank Bevacqua, Washington, D.C.    (202) 736-9024

Fabien Lengellé, Ottawa, ON            (613) 995-0088

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