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DRAFT Literature Compilation

October - December 2023

The information on this website under the Phase 1 menu tab incorporates information compiled from the first phase of a four-phase project to produce a risk analysis to assess the potential to spread aquatic invasive species via seaplanes. At the conclusion of the project, recommendations will be made to enhance U.S. aquatic invasive species-seaplane prevention efforts. The DRAFT material posted in the Phase I section of the website represents a compilation of material from numerous sources, some of which may ultimately inform the risk analysis. The purpose of compiling this information was to better understand the seaplane pathway and identify key data gaps and information needed to inform the risk analysis. No analysis of this information has been conducted to date as content is refined and additional sources and content are added.

There is a need to evaluate and prioritize pathways, develop risk management strategies, and encourage implementation of non-regulatory and regulatory measures to prevent the establishment and spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS) in waters of the United States. This project, led by Creative Resource Strategies, LLC, Conservation Collaborations, LLC, the National Sea Grant Law Center, and Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, is funded by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Grant F23AP01026-00, and is intended to assess the risk of spreading AIS via the seaplane pathway and develop measures to mitigate this potential risk. 

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has exclusive authority in regulating the airspace over the United States and oversees the design, production, and airworthiness of aviation products, the training and certification of pilots, and the certification and operation of airports. 

Invasive species can be moved between waterbodies when a seaplane comes in contact with aquatic invasive plants, such as Elodea spp., or other AIS in the water, such as dreissenid mussels. Trained seaplane pilots can mitigate the risk of transporting AIS by implementing established prevention protocols.

Many federal agencies have regulations pertaining to seaplanes. States may enact a variety of statutes and regulations governing on-the-ground airport operations as long as they do not conflict with federal law. Thirty states have at least one statute or regulation referring to seaplanes. These laws include broad categories: grants of state agency or municipal authority, pilot or seaplane base license requirements, safety requirements, specific geographic restrictions, and AIS regulations.

This draft literature report will help inform the development of a risk assessment relative to the role of the seaplane pathway in the spread of AIS. The report also documents the deleterious effects of AIS and climate change as a driver that enables the spread of invasive species via range expansion as well as creation of habitats and conditions suitable for newly introduced invasive species.

The information compiled in this phase identifies several potential areas in which collaborative approaches may be implemented with the seaplane industry, seaplane pilots, seaplane instructors and trainers, seaplane schools, the FAA and their contractors, and state AIS coordinators to mitigate AIS risks associated with the seaplane pathway. 

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