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Great Lakes Article:

Court ruling could protect Great Lakes
By Mike Jackson
Daily Herald Outdoors
Published April 07, 2005

Is this another toothless court action, or are we finally seeing some serious consideration being paid to the welfare and future of our treasured Great Lakes?

Either way, the National Wildlife Federation has predictably done a fine job of jumping on the bandwagon.

It’s going to be a wait-and-see situation with regard to a recent federal court ruling ordering the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to take action against illegal ballast water dumping in the Great Lakes.

Lake Michigan, along with the rest of the Great Lakes, has been saturated with unwanted, invasive aquatic critters.

Federal judge Susan Illston in effect has told EPA to get its act together and do away with regulations giving commercial ships a pass on their ballast water dumping.

Midwestern and national conservation-oriented organizations have been after the federal government for some years to take action against domestic and foreign shipping interests regarding the ballast dumping.

Over the years, it has been reported that many of these unwanted fish and plant species have come from the Baltic Sea, carried through the St. Lawrence Seaway in the ballast holds of eastern European ships.

Here’s part of the bandwagon statement from the National Wildlife Federation: “The court’s decision leaves no doubt that for the last three decades the EPA was wrong to exempt ballast water discharges from permitting requirements under the Clean Water Act. As of now, every discharge of ballast water by every ship entering the Great Lakes is illegal.

“The ruling forces federal and state governments to take long-overdue action to regulate ballast water discharges and to shut the door on non-native aquatic invasive species. By neglecting its responsibilities under the Clean Water Act, the EPA has allowed non-native aquatic invasive species to enter the Great Lakes and cause significant environmental and economic harm.”

The EPA’s failure to uphold its obligations under the Clean Water Act also has hurt the shipping industry.

“It is imperative that states continue in their efforts to set ballast water standards that are protective of the Great Lakes so that the shipping industry knows what technology to install to discharge clean ballast water,” the NWF said.

“We hope that the court’s decision inspires the shipping industry to devote its energies to developing ballast water treatment technologies so that they can uphold their responsibility to protect the Great Lakes from biological pollution.”

Great angling abounds:

Fox Chain: Excellent crappie fishing is on Lake Marie, Channel Lake, Petite and Fox Lakes. The same holds true for Pistakee Lake. Improved walleye action on Nippersink Lake.

Fox River: Good walleye catches below the McHenry Dame on jig-and-minnow combos. Smallmouth have shown up again below the Algonquin Dam.

Lake Michigan: Coho action has started in earnest, especially off Diversey and Montrose Harbors. Brown trout activity continues at Northpoint and Waukegan.

Forest Preserves: In Cook County, Skokie Lagoon has gotten off to an excellent start with nice bluegills and chunky crappies being taken. In DuPage, Mallard Lake panfish have finally come alive.

Muskie meeting: It’s open to anyone who would like to come along and dine on some good food. And you may even learn a few things about muskie fishing.

The Fox River Valley chapter of Muskies Inc. is hosting its 2005 spring awards banquet. The event takes place at Indian Lakes Resort in Bloomingdale. Rich Gallagher is the point man for the banquet; you can reach him via e-mail at rg3232@aol.com.

•Readers may contact Mike Jackson via e-mail at angler@mikejacksonoutdoors.com and catch his outdoors radio show 6-7 am. Sundays on WSBC 1240-AM.

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