(ALBANY, NY) ― New state regulations will prevent the introduction and spread of invasive species and help to preserve New York’s ecosystems, state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens announced. The regulations are the latest step in the state’s efforts to combat invasive species and were developed by DEC in cooperation with the state Department of Agriculture and Markets (DAM).
“Invasive species can cause serious harm to other species and impair natural ecosystems,” Commissioner Martens said. “These regulations will establish strict limits to better control the spread of invasive species and help to protect natural resources, habitats and biological diversity, including trees, crops and native species that are threatened by the presence of invasives.”
State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, “Invasive species pose a serious threat to New York agriculture, which is why we dedicate so much time and energy to combat these non-native threats to our farms. We are pleased to actively partner with DEC in these efforts to protect our state’s food supply, ecosystems and economy and will work to ensure that these rules provide maximum protection for consumers and all affected industries.”
In early July, Governor Cuomo urged all New Yorkers to take action to protect lands and waters from invasive species that can be harmful to human health, animal habitat, agriculture and tourism by designating New York’s first-ever Invasive Species Awareness Week. Invasive species are harmful non-native species, including plants, insects, fish and mammals, that were imported or released – often accidently – from other areas of the world. Many invasive species such as the Eurasian Boar, Asian Longhorned Beetle, Emerald Ash Borer, and Northern Snakehead fish can cause significant damage to natural communities in New York State. Since 2011, $30 million in state funds has been allocated toward preventing the spread of invasive species.
Under the regulations, DEC and DAM created lists of prohibited and regulated species, and established measures to prevent their release in the state. The regulations make it unlawful to knowingly possess a prohibited species with the intent to sell, import, purchase, transport, or introduce. Regulated species are those that have been determined to have the potential to cause harm to New York’s ecology, or human health but also have positive socio-economic benefits and which may be effectively contained through regulatory programs. Regulated species may be possessed, sold, purchased, propagated, and transported, but may not be knowingly introduced into a free-living state such as being released or planted in lands or waters in a manner that the individual introducing them should know would result in the species being introduced into a free-living state.
The regulations are required under a law signed in July 2012, and were developed with input from the New York Invasive Species Council, comprising representatives from nine state agencies, and the NY Invasive Species Advisory Committee, which includes representatives from 25 conservation organizations, trade and industry, and academia. In addition, in developing the final regulations, DEC considered the 264 unique comments that were received from 263 individuals and organizations during the 60-day public comment period on the draft regulations, which included four public hearings.
The Prohibited and Regulated Invasive Species regulations go into effect six months following the date of publication of the final regulations in the State Register, which will be September 10, 2014. The six month grace period before the regulations take effect provides the regulated community time to sell existing stocks, and to transition to alternatives. Also recognizing the commercial importance of specific species, the regulations provide for an additional one year grace period for the possession, sale, purchase, transportation or introduction of Japanese Barberry. Costs to industry also are mitigated by continuing to allow the sale of certain regulated species with conditions attached, rather than prohibiting their sale entirely.
The rule, including lists of prohibited and regulated species, may be viewed by visiting the Division of Lands and Forests regulations web site at http://www.dec.ny.gov/regulations/2359.html