floated for Great Lakes
Bid to control invasive species
The National Post
Published June 14, 2004
EAST LANSING , MICH. A binational advisory commission
today is expected to begin considering whether to recommend
banning ocean-going ships from entering the Great Lakes
in order to protect them from significant and persistent
The International Joint Commission will review the possible
several less draconian measures, at its regularly bimonthly
The moves are designed to prevent introduction of additional
non-indigenous aquatic species into these large fresh-water
This growing problem was noticed about 15 years ago.
In an effort to find a more effective solution, Dennis
commission's U.S. co-chairman, today will ask the five
other commissioners to consider spending US$55,000 to
underwrite research to determine the economic impact of
the possible ban, "the zero discharge option,"
as well as other courses of action. The ban "is an
idea that has some attributes worth considering. It could
happen. It's inappropriate not to consider all the options,"
Mr. Schornack said earlier this month at conference hosted
by the Knight Centre for Environmental Journalism at Michigan
State University in East Lansing.
"How do we move cargo instead of critters?,"
he asked rhetorically.
Traffic affected by any such ban is relatively small:
about 8.8 million of
the 191 million tons shipped last year through the St.
Lawrence Seaway, the only direct gateway from the Great
Lakes to the Atlantic. However, the Seaway Authority stands
to lose US$6-million in annual tolls attached to that
Offsetting those loses, as well as any additional shipping
expected environmental gains. For example, power plants
industries along the Great Lakes spend about US$75-million
prevent zebra mussels from clogging water intake pipes.
US$7-billion regional sports fishing industry is concerned
species will continue to reduce the size and quality of
catches, and ultimately could crowd some out.
The problem results because these non-native species,
having no natural
local predators, hitch a ride into the Great Lakes in
ballast water residue
or sludge that sits on the bottom of tanks in ships crossing
For example, invasive zebra and quagga mussels are native
to the Caspian and Black seas. Essentially, these and
other unwelcome, dormant creatures enter the Great Lakes
after an ocean-going ship, known as salties, empties fresh
ballast water it has loaded early on during its Great
In addition to the ban, the IJC would like to better
economic impact of mandating transshipment of goods, a
regimen that would keep the salties and their unwelcome
passengers out of the Great Lakes, Mr. Schornack said.
The six-member IJC routinely advises the U.S. and Canadian
governments on cross-border water issues. It could formally
recommend a ban on salties in a biennial report it must
produce for both governments by September 2005.
Transshipped cargo could be transferred from salties
anchored in the
St. Lawrence Seaway to feeder vessels that operate exclusively
within the Great Lakes or transferred at Halifax, Montreal,
or St. John, N.B., to
ships or railroads that would provide inbound service,