Whenever the Task Force determines that there is a substantial risk of unintentional introduction of an aquatic nuisance species by an identified pathway and that the adverse consequences of such an introduction are likely to be substantial, the Task Force shall, acting through the appropriate Federal agency, and after an opportunity for public comment, carry out cooperative, environmentally sound efforts with regional, State and local entities to minimize the risk of such an introduction.
The Task Force may develop cooperative efforts, within the program established under subsection (a), to control established aquatic nuisance species to minimize the risk of harm to the environment and the public health and welfare. For purposes of this chapter, control efforts include eradication of infestations, reductions of populations, development of means of adapting human activities and public facilities to accommodate infestations, and prevention of the spread of aquatic nuisance species from infested areas. Such control efforts shall be developed in consultation with affected Federal agencies, States, Indian Tribes, local governments, interjurisdictional organizations, and other appropriate entities. Control actions authorized by this section shall be based on the best available scientific information and shall be conducted in an environmentally sound manner.
The Task Force or any other affected agency or entity may recommend that the Task Force initiate a control effort. In determining whether a control program is warranted, the Task Force shall evaluate the need for control (including the projected consequences of no control and less than full control); the technical and biological feasibility and cost-effectiveness of alternative control strategies and actions; whether the benefits of control, including costs avoided, exceed the costs of the program; the risk of harm to non-target organisms and ecosystems, public health and welfare; and such other considerations the Task Force determines appropriate. The Task Force shall also determine the nature and extent of control of target aquatic nuisance species that is feasible and desirable.
If the Task Force determines in accordance with paragraph (2) that control of an aquatic nuisance species is warranted, the Task Force shall develop a proposed control program to achieve the target level of control. A notice summarizing the proposed action and soliciting comments shall be published in the Federal Register, in major newspapers in the region affected, and in principal trade publications of the industries affected. Within 180 days of proposing a control program, and after consultation with affected governmental and other appropriate entities and taking into consideration other comments received, the Task Force shall complete development of the proposed control program.
The Task Force shall allocate funds authorized under this chapter for competitive research grants to study all aspects of aquatic nuisance species, which shall be administered through the National Sea Grant College Program and the Cooperative Fishery and Wildlife Research Units. Grants shall be conditioned to ensure that any recipient of funds follows the protocol established under paragraph (2) of this subsection.
The Task Force shall, within the program developed under subsection (a), provide technical assistance to State and local governments and persons to minimize the environmental, public health, and safety risks associated with aquatic nuisance species, including an early warning system for advance notice of possible infestations and appropriate responses.
The Task Force shall, with the program developed under subsection (a), establish and implement educational programs through Sea Grant Marine Advisory Services and any other available resources that it determines to be appropriate to inform the general public, State governments, governments of political subdivisions of States, and industrial and recreational users of aquatic resources in connection with matters concerning the identification of aquatic nuisance species, and control methods for such species, including the prevention of the further distribution of such species.
The Assistant Secretary, in consultation with the Task Force, shall develop a program of research, technology development, and demonstration for the environmentally sound control of zebra mussels in and around public facilities. The Assistant Secretary shall collect and make available, through publications and other appropriate means, information pertaining to such control methods.
Not later than 1 year after October 26, 1996, the Task Force shall develop and submit to the Secretary voluntary guidelines for controlling the spread of the zebra mussel and, if appropriate, other aquatic nuisance species through recreational activities, including boating and fishing. Not later than 4 months after the date of such submission, and after providing notice and an opportunity for public comment, the Secretary shall issue voluntary guidelines that are based on the guidelines developed by the Task Force under this subparagraph.
The Assistant Secretary, in consultation with the Task Force, shall investigate and identify environmentally sound methods for preventing and reducing the dispersal of aquatic nuisance species between the Great Lakes-Saint Lawrence drainage and the Mississippi River drainage through the Chicago River Ship and Sanitary Canal, including any of those methods that could be incorporated into the operation or construction of the lock system of the Chicago River Ship and Sanitary Canal.
There are authorized to be appropriated to the Department of the Army such sums as are necessary to carry out the dispersal barrier demonstration project directed by this paragraph.
To the extent allowable by law, in carrying out the studies under paragraphs (2) and (3), the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Secretary of the Army may enter into an agreement with an interested party under which that party provides in kind or monetary contributions for the study.
The Task Force shall provide opportunities for affected Federal agencies which are not part of the Task Force, State and local government agencies, and regional and other entities with the necessary expertise to participate in control programs. If these other agencies or entities have sufficient authority or jurisdiction and expertise and where this will be more efficient or effective, responsibility for implementing all or a portion of a control program may be delegated to such agencies or entities.