Federal Regulations

National Invasive Species Council


On February 3, 1999, Executive Order 13112 was signed establishing the National Invasive Species Council (NISC). NISC is an inter-departmental body that helps to coordinate and ensure complementary, cost-effective federal activities regarding invasive species. Their programs and activities include prevention; early detection and rapid response; control, management and restoration; research; education and public awareness; international cooperation; and organizational collaboration. They also have information about what general citizens can do to help prevent the spread of invasive species.

Council members include:

  • Department of Agriculture
  • Department of Commerce
  • Department of Defense
  • Department of Health and Human Services
  • Department of Homeland Security
  • Department of State
  • Department of the Interior
  • Department of Transportation
  • Department of the Treasury
  • Environmental Protection Agency
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration
  • Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
  • U.S. Agency for International Development

Policy and Supporting Publications

The National Invasive Species Management Plan – 2001

Together with the Invasive Species Advisory Committee, stakeholders, concerned members of the public, and member departments, NISC formulated an action plan for the nation. NISC issued the National Invasive Species Management Plan early in 2001 to provide an overall blueprint for Federal action. The Plan recommends specific action items to improve coordination, prevention, control and management of invasive species by the Federal agency members of the Council.

The National Invasive Species Management Plan provides a “Survey of Federal Roles and Responsibilities” and “An Action Plan for the Nation”. The Plan is divided into nine interrelated and equally important areas that the Council considers priorities in addressing invasive species problems. These are:

  • Leadership and Coordination
  • Prevention
  • Early Detection and Rapid Response
  • Control and Management
  • Restoration
  • International Cooperation
  • Research
  • Information Management
  • Education and Public Awareness

The National Invasive Species Management Plan – 2008

Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne convened the National Invasive Species Council (NISC) in 2008 to oversee the adoption of the new National Invasive Species Management Plan (2008-12). The plan was developed collaboratively with 13 federal departments and agencies and their partners. Federal expenditures on invasive species were estimated to exceed $1.3 billion annually. The plan is the culmination of an extensive process of expert review, and public comment.

The report discusses the most useful tools, methods, and monitoring systems for identifying pathways, including emerging or changing pathways, and for intervening and stopping introductions most efficiently.

NISC Pathways Report and Ranking Guide 2005

Action Item #16 of the 2001 Management Plan called on Federal agencies to undertake measures to interdict pathways that are recognized as significant sources for the unintentional introduction of invasive species. NISC was charged with implementing a system for evaluating invasive species pathways. In response, the Pathways Work Team was tasked with developing a guide and process for invasive species pathway definition, analysis and prioritization, and identifying, describing in reasonable detail, and ranking those pathways that it believes are the most significant. In 2005, the Team produced the “Pathways Work Team Focus Group Conference Report and Ranking Guide.” The report discusses the most useful tools, methods, and monitoring systems for identifying pathways, including emerging or changing pathways, and for intervening and stopping introductions most efficiently.

ISAC Invasive Species Definitions and Guidance

Executive Order 13112 Ð defines an invasive species as “an alien species whose introduction does or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health.

Some non-native species, for example West Nile virus, are considered invasive and undesirable by virtually everyone. Other non-native species are not as easily characterized. For example, some are considered harmful, and therefore, invasive by some sectors of society while other sectors consider those species to be beneficial. This discontinuity is reflective of the different value systems operating in our free society, and contributes to the complexity of defining the term invasive species. These uncertainties have stood and could continue to stand in the way of progress in actions and policy development to prevent new invasions and manage existing invasive species. In 2006, the federal Invasive Species Advisory Committee submitted to the National Invasive Species Council an Invasive Species Definitions and Guidance white paper that provides a non-regulatory policy interpretation of the term invasive species. The white paper identifies what is meant, and just as important, what is not meant by invasive species. The discussion applies equally to all taxa of invasive species in all habitats and provides insight into those areas where societal judgments will be necessary to implement effective invasive species public policy.

Aquatic Invasive Species: Water Gardening

Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force, September 2013

Water gardens, or aquatic gardens, generally are designed to house and display aquatic plants and fish. They range in size from small patio container gardens to large ponds, both natural and human-made. Despite their beauty, water gardens can lead to introductions of invasive plants and animals into natural waterways. The Recommended Voluntary Guidelines for Preventing the Introduction and Spread of Aquatic Invasive Species:Water Gardening is available for reference to avoid introducing and/or spreading aquatic invasive species.

Aquatic Invasive Species: Recreational Activities

Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force, November 2013

In July 2011, the Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force (ANSTF) re-established the Recreational Guidelines Committee, composed of 55 Federal and State agency, non-profit and industry representatives. The Committee’s mission is to update the 2000 ANSTF Recommended Voluntary Guidelines for Preventing the Spread of Aquatic Nuisance Species Associated with Recreational Activities (Federal Register/ Vol. 65, No. 76/ Thursday, April 13, 2000/ Notices, Pg. 19953). Those guidelines were revised taking into account new aquatic invasive species (AIS), and new recreational activities and equipment. Guidelines were revised for six recreational activities: anglers, motor boaters, non-motorized boaters, scuba divers and snorkelers, seaplane pilots, and waterfowl hunters.

The purpose of these guidelines is to:

  • Provide a consistent, practical, and effective document to inform outreach efforts geared toward public recreationalists to prevent the spread of AIS
  • Take into account the specific pathways, vectors, and life histories of all AIS, including fish, aquatic plants, invertebrates, and pathogens
  • Promote voluntary actions to support the national Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers!™ campaign.


*Please Note: This page only contains federal regulations as of 2013*


For more information on Federal Invasive Species Regulations click here (offsite link).