Introduction to Aquatic Invasive Species


The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) is hosting a public workshop on draft regulations to limit the sale of freshwater invasive plants. During the workshop DEM will present the proposed list of prohibited plants along with details on the draft regulations. Staff from DEM’s Office of Water Resources and Division of Fish and Wildlife will be participating in the workshop and available for questions and discussion.

Aquatic invasive plants are a widespread problem in Rhode Island’s freshwater lakes. More than 100 lakes, and an additional 27 river segments, are plagued with at least one species of invasive plant. Aquatic invasive species pose threats to healthy ecosystems, decrease recreational opportunities and tourism, and cause economic impacts.

Aggressive invasive plants disrupt the balance of native plants and animals, cause significant habitat loss, and reduce water quality. To prevent the further introduction of such invasive species to new areas through plant trade in Rhode Island, DEM has developed draft regulations to address this ongoing problem and restrict the movement and sale of invasive plants and seeds.


Questions about the workshop may be directed to DEM Division of Fish & Wildlife Deputy Chief of Freshwater & Diadromous Fisheries Christine Dudley at or 401-789-0281.

Aquatic invasive species

Aquatic invasive species (AIS) are non-native plants and animals that have been introduced (accidentally or intentionally) into lakes and rivers, and whose introduction threatens the diversity or abundance of native species, the stability of the ecosystem and/or the use of the infested water body. AIS are a major threat to our freshwater ecosystems and a significant management concern because of their ecological and socio-economic costs.



Ecological Costs

  • Loss of beneficial native species
  • Decreased biodiversity
  • Changes in fish and wildlife habitat
  • Disruption of local food web stability
  • Degradation of water quality

Recreational Losses

  • Interference with recreational uses such as swimming, paddling, boating and fishing
  • Alteration of sport fish habitat and reduced fishing opportunities due to stressed fish communities

Economic Impacts

  • Damage to infrastructure (such as clogging dam gates, canals and irrigation or other intake pipes)
  • AIS management and control costs substantial amounts of money
  • Nuisance conditions may reduce waterfront property values
  • Fewer recreational opportunities may impact tourism and affect businesses in the community