Aquatic invasive species may be introduced into the environment in seemingly unexpected ways. Trade in aquarium fish (above), for example, may be an important vector, but we need to know more.

Aquatic Invasive Species Vector Risk Assessments

Every year, a wide variety of marine aquatic invasive species (AIS) enters California’s coastal waters. Some of these species, when introduced to a new ecosystem, can interfere with commercial and recreational uses of California’s coastal waters, and cause economic damage. It is extremely difficult to predict precisely which non-indigenous species (NIS) among the many that enter our state will become invasive and cause harm.


Download OST's final progress report to the State for more information on assessing invasive species vector risk through expert judgment, and evaluating policy and management options.

About the Project

Managers and researchers have recognized that one cost-effective means of preventing new introductions of potentially damaging NIS is to focus on the vectors which bring them into California. The OPC reached out to OST to coordinate risk assessments for introductions of AIS into California's coastal and estuarine waters. The goals of this project are learn more about lesser-understood vectors, to develop a method for understanding the relative risk associated with each, and to recommend efficient strategies to prevent new invasions. The vectors under consideration are:

  • commercial fishing
  • recreational boating
  • live bait
  • live imported seafood
  • aquariums and aquascaping
  • aquaculture

Through a competitive process, OST recruited three highly qualified teams of AIS scientists to research the six vectors and produce assessments reports. In part, the teams found that in many instances, information about the vectors was limited or difficult to access, requiring additional steps be taken to credibly assess the relative risk of each vector. Therefore, OST expanded on the original scope, bringing in a host of experts to inform the design of an expert judgment framework to apply to the information.

AIS Vector Assessment Reports:

Additional Documents and Links

For further details contact Errin Ramanujam, Associate Scientist

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