The incident involving moss balls elicited calls for action at local, state, tribal, regional, national, and international levels to:
stop the importation of zebra mussel contaminated moss ball products into the United States, locate and dispose of existing contaminated products in the U. S. supply
chain, and conduct outreach to industry and home aquarists to prevent the release of zebra mussels into the environment.
The response provides a unique opportunity to review, evaluate, and recommend strategies to prevent and to rapidly respond to the introduction, establishment, and spread of AIS in the waters of the United States.
Accordingly, the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS or Service) requests proposals to conduct an assessment and draft an after-action report for the Marimo moss ball incident that is national in scope to evaluate the effectiveness and timeliness of actions taken and provide recommendations for future actions needed to mitigate risk and improve preparedness for response.
It is anticipated that the work will be completed through a cooperative agreement with the Service.
Service staff will be substantially involved throughout the assessment to provide details about the response, to provide additional points of contact, and access to additional documents that may be needed to adequately assess the moss ball response.
However, it is expected that the grantee will draft the report and develop conclusions and recommendations independently.
Objectives to be addressed under this assessment include:
Establish the timeline of actions taken to respond to the Marimo moss ball incident; Describe the roles and responsibilities of applicable Federal agencies, including interaction with state agencies and industry sectors; Evaluate the working relationship among Federal agencies at ports of entry; Identify potential obstacles to effective import regulation at the Federal level associated with the commerce of aquatic organisms known to be associated with the aquarium, water garden, and pet trade; Evaluate information sharing (timing, mechanisms, and content) between and among the multiple parties (e.g., Federal and State agencies, industry sectors, businesses, public) involved throughout the response; and Identify potential strengths, gaps, and limitations of the Federal response.
Following award selection, the successful applicant must provide a draft outline of the report that will be used to communicate the results of the assessment.
A Review Team, composed of Service staff and invited subject matter experts will review the draft outline and provide feedback to ensure that all anticipated deliverables will be met.
Overall, the report should:
Summarize the manner and timing of actions that occurred to respond to the moss ball incident, including those taken by Federal and State agencies, regional organizations, and industry; Identify gaps in regulation, enforcement, and other authorities, commenting on changes that may be needed to prevent similar circumstances; Provide recommendations for actions needed to:
Mitigate risk from the aquarium, water garden, and pet trade prior to, at the point of entry, and after entry into U. S. commerce; Improve preparedness for response to AIS introductions; and Address other issues identified through the analysis.
Following the completion of the draft outline, the grantee will be required to meet with the Review Team, either in person or virtually, to discuss a defined work plan and identify areas where assistance or information is needed for the assessment.
Six months after the agreed upon work plan is implemented, the grantee must provide an accomplishment report (approximately 2 pages) to update the Review Team on the plan’s progress.
Outcomes from this assessment will be directly applicable to preventing species from being introduced into and spreading within the United States with a focus on pathways associated with the commerce of living organisms, including the aquarium, water garden, and pet trade which are identified as high-risk pathways of introduction.
Once the assessment is complete, the grantee will be required to present (30 – 45 minutes, in person or virtually) the findings and recommendations to the Aquatic Nuisance Species (ANS) Task Force.
Recommendations from the report will also be shared through existing forums (e.g., the ANS Task Force, National Invasive Species Council, North American Invasive Species Management Association, National Invasive Species Awareness Week).