Laws, Federal and State
ENCYCLOPEDIA OF BIOLOGICAL INVASIONS, p. 430, Daniel Simberloff, Marcel Rejmánek, eds., 2011
9 Pages Posted: 2 Nov 2010
This short piece assesses the current state of federal and state laws regarding biological invasions - an issue also commonly but incompletely referred to in the legal and policy literature as the problem of invasive or non-indigenous species ("NIS"). The incidence of invasive, alien, exotic, and introduced species is a growing global phenomenon with significant biological, health and economic impacts. This article is part of the first extensive systematic collection of essays on the science and policy of biological invasions. See Daniel Simberloff and Marcel Rejmánek, editors, Encyclopedia of Biological Invasions (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2011). The substantial majority of the entries in the Encylopedia of Biological Invasions are written by natural scientists, but some, like this one, address the human dimensions of biological invasions - the legal, economic, institutional, social and political landscape on which the biological developments play out.
In the United States, federal and state legislative activity since 2005 has trended toward increasing recognition of the importance of responding to harmful NIS. This uptick in legislative action and references to invasive species focuses on particular invaders, especially those with significant economic impacts, and even more specifically, on aquatic invasives in general and the threat from nonnative mussels in particular. More fundamentally, there is no general law of invasive species either at the federal level or in any U.S. state. Some federal laws have responded to threats from particular invasive species, or threats from particular pathways for alien species, in particular ballast water as a source of aquatic NIS. But no federal law has ever responded to the general problem of prohibiting, preventing, screening, identifying, removing, and understanding NIS. This may be one of the most important aspects of environmental law and policy not addressed by some general legal framework.
Keywords: environmental law, invasive species, harmful invasive species, non-indigenous species, exotic species, introduced species, alien species, biological invasions, global environmental harms, gaps in environmental law, regulatory gaps
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