TPWD News Release — July 13, 2010
AUSTIN – The use of algae for beneficial purposes such as the production of biofuels has recently received increased attention. The Texas Parks & Wildlife Department wants to ensure the introduction of algae not normally found in Texas or surrounding waters will not harm the state’s natural resources.
In an effort to allow the use of some non-native algae while adhering to its mission of wildlife protection and conservation, TPWD will hold a public meeting to gather input regarding which non-native algae to consider for importation, possession, use and sale in Texas. The meeting is set for 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 29, in the Commission Hearing Room at TPWD headquarters, 4200 Smith School Road.
The Texas Legislature has directed TPWD to create a list of approved exotic aquatic plants, which includes algae, and that list must be finalized by the end of the year. The use of a list of approved plant species is a departure from the department’s present use of a list of prohibited species to restrict the importation and sale of certain non-native plants. No algae are on the current prohibited list.
Presently, possession of some non-native plants is prohibited while the possession of other non-native species is allowed with a permit. This system requires the department to continually monitor and update the prohibited list as new species are brought into Texas.
Dr. Earl Chilton, TPWD’s exotic vegetation program manager, said several varieties of algae are known to cause toxic blooms that can harm fish and people. “TPWD has been tasked by the legislature to ensure that the new rules are as permissive as possible without allowing the importation or possession of algae that pose environmental, economic, or health problems,” Chilton said. “We need input from the industries, researchers, and any others in the state that use algae.”
Each species considered for the approved list must pass a scientific risk analysis before it will be added to the list to ensure that it does not have the potential to negatively impact the state’s aquatic resources.
For more information, contact Dr. Earl Chilton at (512) 389-4652; firstname.lastname@example.org, or Dr. Patricia Radloff at (512) 389-8730; email@example.com.