Science Serving Maryland's Coasts


Rapid Responses Contingency Plan Development for Mid-Atlantic Panel on Aquatic Invasive Species

Principal Investigator: 

Jonathan G. Kramer

Start/End Year: 

2007 to 2009


Maryland Sea Grant

Co-Principal investigator: 

Fredrika Moser, Maryland Sea Grant College University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science; Jessica Smits, Maryland Sea Grant College University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science


Background: In the last few years, numerous regional panels under the Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force (ANSTF) received funding from the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration (NOAA) to develop rapid response plans. The Western Regional Panel published a model rapid response plan for aquatic nuisance species in 2002 and then developed a response plan for zebra mussels in the Columbia River basin in 2006. The Great Lakes Panel also developed a model rapid response plan for aquatic nuisance species. The Northeast Regional Panel conducted a series of workshops to determine critical elements needed in a rapid response plan. The Gulf and South Atlantic Panel (GSAP) used both existing model plans and a series of workshops with state and federal agency participation to develop their regional response plan. Their final plan consisted of a series of separate state rapid response sections and then a section describing mechanisms for linking the state plans across the Panel' region. Following the lead of these other panels, the Mid-Atlantic Panel on Aquatic Invasive Species (MAP) proposes to work cooperatively with NOAA to develop a rapid response plan for the MAP region. MAP views rapid response as a critical component of any species management strategy to address either intentional or unintentional aquatic invasive species introductions. The Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force (ANSTF) is currently reviewing (see ANSTF Fall meeting 2006 Meeting minutes) for adoption the definition of rapid response endorsed by the National Invasive Species Council as follows: "Rapid response is a systematic effort to eradicate, contain, or control a potentially invasive non-native species introduced into an ecosystem while the infestation of that ecosystem is still localized." The ANSTF notes that this definition is interpreted to include a "no action" response and that the economic costs and benefits of rapid response are factored into any effort to respond to an invasive non-native introduction. The MAP concurs with the ANSTF on this definition of rapid response and sees it as the cornerstone of developing any regional rapid response plan. Further, over the last year, the ANSTF adopted (ANSTF Meeting, May 2007) the recommendations (ANSTF Memo May 1, 2007) to use the National Incident Management System (based on the Incident Command System [ICS] as the model for rapid response planning and operations. Consistent with the ANSTF efforts, the MAP is intent on incorporating components of the ICS into the development of a rapid response plan for it's region. Although an ICS approach has been used for many years by the Forest Service to address management of forest fires, the use of ICS for addressing invasive species introductions is relatively recent. Notable for the MAP region, is the recently developed (2005) Maryland Emergency Response Plan for Invasive Forest Pests that uses a modified ICS approach to "clearly define agency roles in response to invading insects or diseases... that address assessment, outreach, education, eradication and containment, relevant authorities and/or duties, and the coordination of resources." This plan will provide useful information for the development of a MAP rapid response plan. Another recent invasive species rapid response plan that uses an ICS approach is the National Park Service's, May 2007 "Quagga/Zebra Mussel Infestation Prevention and Response Planning Guide." Aspects of this plan will also prove useful for developing the MAP's aquatic invasive species rapid response plan. For additional guidance, we indend to consult reports, such as EPA's "Overview of EPA Authorities for Natural Resources Managers Developing Aquatic Invasive Species Rapid Response and Management Plans," as well as numerous ICS plans and forms readily available through the Internet. The basic premises of an ICS approach to rapid response were outlined at the ANSTF Fall 2006 Meeting. CDR Vickie Huyck (USCG) provided the overview of the ICS to the ANSTF. The key components from her talk that are important for the development of a MAP rapid response plan are quotes below from the Task Force meeting minutes (Fall 2006) "ICS includes a number of features, including unity of command, management by objectives, scalable organization, span of control, common terminology, resource management, integrated communication, organizational flexibility, and common processes, that allow it to be an effective tool. Substantial training in ICS is available, some online and some in classrooms...A unified command (UC) ensures that a single response organization with a single planning process yields a single response plan that dictates how to use available resources in a coordinated fashion. The UC develops incident objectives and priorities, ensuring that no agency's authority is compromised...ICS involves a preplanning strategy. It's implementation would allow people to preplan for potential invasions and address barriers beforehand if something happens." We will consider all of these features as we develop a rapid response plan for the Mid-Atlantic region. Purpose: Specially, this project proposes to develop a rapid response plan for eight states and the District of Columbia in the Mid-Atlantic region. Each state will contribute to the development of this plan, realizing that rapid responses capabilities are required within each state in order to effectively develop a regional response plan. Plans will be divided among key watersheds in the region including the Chesapeake Bay, Delaware Bay and the coastal bays. Specific objectives will be to: 1) draft a plan based on an ICS approach; b) develop strategies and a generic incident action plan; c) conduct a 'drill" or "exercise" to test how well the plan works. This strategy will enable us to focus resources on the development of a plan that can be implemented if an invasion occurs and then to test whether the plan is effective by planning a "mock invasion" (e.g. a drill or exercise). Approach: We propose developing a rapid response plan using existing "model" rapid response plans from other Regional Panels, ICS guidance documents and existing invasive species rapid responses plans that use an ICS framework. Objective: 1: Develop a model for a rapid response planning and operations 1. Review model invasive species rapid response plans developed by other Regional Panels and programs and develop an appropriate rapid response plan framework for the Mid-Atlantic region. 2. Establish a network of contacts from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Panel (MAP) states (Maryland, Virginia, District of Columbia, West Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and New York) to assist with development of the plan and propose a regional watershed approach within the MAP region. 3. Identify personnel for a unified command group to assist in responses. 4. Identify contacts for scientific information to provide taxonomic identification, capacity to assess whether a specific species will cause serious problems, and available control methods (see ANSTF Spring 2007 recommendations). 5. Identify key federal, state, tribal and local contacts familiar with the state and federal laws and regulations that may influence the degree of involvement of different agencies when responding to an introduction. 6. Plan a 1-2 day meeting or a series of conference calls with the state contacts, if needed, to develop the steps outlined above. 7. Develop potential strategies for responding to an invasive species introduction. 8. Develop a generic incident action plan that can be applied to any of the watershed areas in the MAP region. Objective 2: Plan a "mock invasion" drill or exercise 1. Plan a "mock invasion" to test the effectiveness of the strategies and incident action plan developed in Objective 1 and to address any issues or problems that are revealed during the "mock invasion". 2. Revise the rapid response plan to address issues that come up during the "mock invasion". 3. Submit a summary document with the final strategies and generic incident action pan for the MAP region to NOAA.