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Pathogens and invasive species in the Great Lakes: Understanding manager and stakeholder responses
T. Bruce Lauber1, Nancy Connolly1, Richard Stedman1, and Barbara Knuth1
1 Department of Natural Resources, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853
Fish pathogens and aquatic invasive species (AIS) are an ongoing challenge in the Great Lakes region. Their presence and the possibility of their spread have resulted in local, state, and federal responses, including education programs and regulatory actions aimed in part at anglers. These efforts focus on preventing the movement of fish between bodies of water, proper disposal of fish carcasses and byproducts, removal of mud, plants, and animals from gear, boats, motors, and trailers, and draining and disinfecting live wells, bilges, and bait tanks. Through interviews and surveys of Great Lakes fisheries decision makers, anglers, and bait dealers, we characterized the approaches being used to prevent the spread of pathogens and AIS by anglers and bait dealers and assessed how anglers and bait dealers have responded to these efforts. We found that outreach efforts targeting anglers and bait dealers in the Great Lakes region tended to communicate similar messages, but regulations varied much more from one jurisdiction to another. Many anglers and bait dealers have adopted AIS-prevention behaviors, although we found differences in the percentages adopting these behaviors in different states and provinces. Stakeholders are more likely to adopt these behaviors if they are aware of, concerned about, and knowledgeable about AIS. However, there are constraints on certain behaviors, such as washing boating equipment, which requires specialized materials or equipment if done according to recommendations.