Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers! From Theory to Application

Untitled Document
Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS): Multiple Species
Project Location: Nationwide
Project Start Date: 01/2005
Expected Timeframe/Duration: ongoing
Sponsoring Organization: University of Minnesota Sea Grant Program
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Web Links:
Primary Contact: Douglas Jensen, Aquatic Invasive Species Program Coordinator
University of Minnesota Sea Grant Program

Secondary Contact:
Project Summary:

Preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS) starts with changing behavior.  Over the past decade, community-based social marketing (CBSM) has emerged as an effective framework for promoting programs that foster sustained behavior. Most widely used in health care, it is also being applied in waste reduction, water and energy efficiency, and pollution prevention. Based on CBSM, Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers! is a national campaign to prevent the spread of AIS by boaters, anglers, and other recreationists.  

Community-based social marketing (CBSM) is a method to implement and evaluate campaigns and programs aimed at fostering sustained behaviors. It is an effective alternative to information-based education that "just get the word out." Instead, the CBSM approach selects the behaviors to change, and importantly uncovers the barriers and benefits to behavior based on an assessment (e.g., survey, focus group). Using this information, a campaign or program can be strategically designed using tools that target previous behavior barriers. Efforts are most effective when used in combination in a multi-media campaign or program targeting the community level involving direct contact with the target audience. CBSM tools include commitment (pledge), prompts (reminders), norms (actions based on behaviors), communication (aimed at capturing attention), and incentives (fines, taxes, fees, loans, grants, rebates).  It uses strategic communication and outreach tools to promote sustainable behavior change. 

Evidence from boater surveys indicates that Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers! is effective as a behavior intervention campaign.  It is currently in use by more than 870 partners nationwide and continues to spread—a testimonial to its success as a model intervention strategy to prevent the spread of AIS.

Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers! is a national campaign lead by the Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force and its partners.  Although launched in 2002, Minnesota began to integrate into our outreach efforts in 2005 and been able to step up efforts again in 2010 based on a Great Lake Restoration Initiative (GLRI) grant.