Rapid Response Plan for Aquatic Invasive Species
Aquatic invasive species pose a significant environmental and economic threat to the ecosystems and communities of the Mid-Atlantic region and beyond. While avoiding invasive species introductions is key, managers must be prepared to take action when prevention measures fail. Maryland Sea Grant has completed a Rapid Response Plan that was requested and funded by the National Sea Grant Office from all Regional Panels of the congressionally-supported Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force.
The plan provides guidelines for responding to an aquatic invasive species incident quickly and effectively.
Its foundation is Incident Command System, a standardized protocol that allows for a common response framework across agencies and jurisdictions.
Additionally, this plan serves as a tool for states in the Mid-Atlantic region and beyond to use in developing their own Rapid Response Plans. A template version allows agencies to tailor the plan to address their specific needs. This example document is a result of the state of Maryland’s use of the template. The Mid-Atlantic Panel encourages states in the Mid-Atlantic and elsewhere to download the template here.
Major components of the plan include:
• Overview of Rapid Response Effort Flowchart. The flowchart provides a step-by-step view of the entire Rapid Response effort.
• Operational Planning “P.” Developed by the United States Coast Guard, the Planning “P” is a visual representation of the Incident Command System planning process. The Rapid Response Procedure is based upon the steps outlined in the Planning “P.”
• Decision Tree for When to Take Action on Aquatic Invasive Species. Deciding whether to take action on an invasive species is a crucial component of any Rapid Response Plan. This tree breaks the decision down into three steps.
• Incident Command System (ICS) Job Descriptions. ICS position titles enable responders to speak a common language to avoid the confusion that may come when different agencies, with differences in terminology, all respond to the same aquatic invasive species
incident. These descriptions help to ensure that everyone charged with responding to an incident clearly understands their responsibilities.
• Aquatic Invasive Species Sighting Report Form. Gathering critical information on an invasive species sighting is the first step to an effective response. This form streamlines the information-gathering process.