State updates efforts to
fight lake invaders
By MALCOLM JOHNSON
Associated Press Writer
LANSING -- State officials called Wednesday for a coordinated
fight against "aquatic nuisance species," which they portrayed
as the top environmental threat to Michigan waters.
Such invaders as the zebra mussel and the round goby
-- not native to the Great Lakes but transferred here
by oceangoing freighters that take on tainted water as
ballast -- threaten to destroy the lakes' natural populations
of game fish and disrupt the lives of shoreland residents,
"There is no greater threat to the Great Lakes than these
exotic species," said Russell Harding, director of the
state Department of Environmental Quality.
"They are a threat to our way of life," said David Ladd,
director of the state Office of the Great Lakes.
Harding, Ladd and other state officials held a ceremony
at the state Capitol at which they warned of the danger
and drummed up support for steps to combat that threat.
"There's no question in my mind that if this isn't the
top threat to the Great Lakes, it's among the top two
or three," said state Sen. Ken Sikkema, R-Wyoming, the
chairman of the Senate Natural Resources and Environmental
Sikkema sponsored and pushed through legislation requiring
shippers to register with the state and adopt the "best
management practices" to limit release of invasive species.
Harding said the state is testing ways to kill exotic
species carried in ballast water, which is discharged
when a freighter takes on new cargo.
"I think chlorination will work," he said. "We absolutely
are going to have to solve this. We need federal help."
National legislation to address the exotic species problem
is pending, but Sikkema said it has stalled short of final
"Washington doesn't seem to get it," he said.
Officials released an update of Michigan's aquatic nuisance
species management plan.
It calls for coordination of efforts and enactment of
laws to reduce the impacts of nonnative species, more
information and education campaigns to address the issue,
and the establishment of a network of experts to provide
accurate information about the problem.