What’s in your bucket? Quantifying AIS introduction risk
The goal of this study is to assess the risk of introduction of fish pathogens through the recreational use of baitfish. We will synthesize existing knowledge to identify priority hazards for the baitfish trade, develop a risk analysis framework, and characterize the volume, patterns, and complexity of baitfish use by anglers in Minnesota. This will result in the development of a tool for estimating risk of AIS introduction via the baitfish pathway. The tool will be tested with three pathogens of concern to estimate the number of likely introductions to wild fish populations – a useful metric when considering trade-offs for risk management.
The use of baitfish for recreational angling results in billions of farm-raised and wild-caught fish being moved long distances overland and introduced into new environments. While this activity has the potential to move numerous AIS, including pathogens which may go undetected, nobody really knows the risk for Minnesota. Quantifying the actual, not perceived, risks of introduction will help inform risk-based management decisions and lead to better outcomes that support Minnesota’s bait and fishing industries while protecting natural resources.