Black Carp: Biological Synopsis and Risk Assessment of an Introduced Fish

Chapter 16: Risk Assessment Process


This chapter contains our evaluation of the black carp Mylopharyngodon piceus using the generic risk assessment process developed by the recently disbanded Risk Assessment and Management (RAM) Committee (RAM Committee 1998). For those unfamiliar with the process, risk assessment and analysis is a relatively new field, representing a combination of art and science. Scientists and other individuals from diverse disciplines have created and applied a wide range of risk analysis methodologies to evaluate hazards and risks associated with various subjects, for instance, health, engineering, or ecological change.

The RAM Committee was charged with the specific task of creating a generic risk analysis process useful in evaluation of risks associated with introduction of nonindigenous aquatic plants and animals. The “review process” was developed to meet the risk analysis needs of the Aquatic Nuisance Prevention and Control Act of 1990. The RAM Committee represented a number of government agencies, potentially impacted industries, and special interest groups. As a risk management tool, the review process was designed to assess the probability of unintentional introductions and reduce the risk associated with intentional introductions. As defined by the committee, risk assessment is “a process allowing for analysis of factors for which the dimension, characteristics, and types of risk can be identified and estimated.” By applying analytical methodologies, the process allows assessors to use qualitative and quantitative information in a systematic and consistent fashion. One of the ultimate goals of the process was to produce quality risk assessments on specific nonindigenous aquatic organisms. It was intended that assessments strive for theoretical accuracy while remaining comprehensible and manageable, providing a reasonable estimation of overall risk, clearly explaining the uncertainties inherent in the process (RAM Committee 1998).