The Great Lakes Commission represents eight states and associate members Ontario and Québec. Courtesy Great Lakes Commission
The Great Lakes Commission is requesting statements of qualification from independent consultants, firms, universities and other interested parties to develop web-crawling software that will identify online invasive-species sellers.
Part of a two-year long project, “Protecting the Great Lakes from Internet Trade of Aquatic Invasive Species,” the GLC hopes to identify online sellers so they can educate them about current regulated species as well as species of increased concern, and ultimately reduce the introduction and spread of invasive species in regional water systems.
“The purpose of this project is to find out what the availability of the species we are concerned about is online, and then provide sellers information on invasive species and let them know either the species is regulated or that there might be a potential risk with the species they are selling,” said Erika Jensen, senior program specialist at GLC. “Also, to provide that information to state and federal agencies so they have a better idea of what the situation is.”
GLC received funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative program for the project. Up to $90,000 is available for the software development aspect of the project.
Interested organizations should submit their statements of qualification to GLC by 1 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 9. A selection and interview process will follow and GLC plans to make its decision by the end of 2012. Expected completion of the software development stage of the project is Nov. 30, 2013, and the second year will be devoted to meeting the project’s additional goals.
“This is an issue that has been identified as part of a broader pathway for potential invasive species introduction and spread known as organisms in trade,” Jensen explained. “Organisms in trade refers to species that are bought and sold for commercial purposes, for use in aquariums or water gardens, for use as live bait, or even, in some cases, live food fish. Organisms-in-trade issues span all of these different industries.
“This is just one potential pathway for invasive species introduction and spread, and there are many other projects and efforts underway looking at other pathways. This is a gap that we’ve identified that we are trying to address.”