Examining One State’s Regulation Development Process to Manage Alien Crayfish Introductions

procambarus-clarkii-lukhaup

Red swamp crawfish Procambarus clarkii.  Photo credit: Chris Lukhaup.

By Robert J. DiStefano, Ronald A. Reitz, and Emily M. Imhoff

Invasive crayfishes adversely affect fisheries throughout the United States and Canada. Recommended management strategies, such as regulation and education, limit primary introduction pathways (e.g., aquaculture, bait shops, pet trade, educational classrooms).

We present a case study of our state agency’s approach to collecting data to support regulation development and accompanying educational efforts in Missouri. We studied other agencies’ approaches, industry pathways, and stakeholder groups to develop and support regulations.

We found that bait, pet, and aquaculture industries’ crayfish sales only constituted a small portion of their incomes. High school and college educators used crayfishes in lessons, with most being obtained from the wild or biological supply companies; some educators released live crayfishes to the water afterward. The biological supply companies providing specimens to educators often provided species that differed from ones advertised, including invasive species. Biological and survey data-supported regulations were implemented in 2012, and stakeholder input was used to revise them. A suite of pre- and postregulation education was aimed at the general public and targeted stakeholders to describe the problem and process. We believe that we used a science-informed process to partially close some important introduction pathways.

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