Editorial: New invasive species bills
One bill stands out as the better long-term solution.
The Minnesota Daily
Published October 26, 2005
T wo feuding bills fighting their way through Congress,
both claiming to alleviate the problem of invasive species
in the Great Lakes, deserve serious consideration.
Currently, ships are required to exchange their ballast
water when they move in and out of the Great Lakes area
in an effort to minimize the number of invasive organisms
that make it into the lakes ó organisms such as zebra
mussels, which have made themselves infamous by wreaking
havoc all the way down the Mississippi River ecosystem.
The efforts are commendable but not effective enough.
Organisms can still survive in the residual water that
cannot be completed removed from the ships, so newer methods
are needed to protect the lakesí native species.
The first bill, the National Aquatic Invasive Species
Act, is sponsored by Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., and cosponsored
by Sen. Mark Dayton, D-Minn. It seems to be stagnant and
needs a jump-start in the Senate. The act aims to phase
out ballast water exchange and instead develop treatments
that will safely kill invasive organisms. It also calls
for research on invasive pathways and screening live organisms
in the aquatic animal trade. Overall, this bill seems
to call for a comprehensive solution for the problem at
The competing bill, the Ballast Water Management Act,
has already made it through the Senate Commerce Committee.
It calls for much more stringent standards than those
currently imposed, but will take more time to implement
and keeps ballast exchange as the main safeguard against
Officials from the National Wildlife Federationís Great
Lakes Natural Resource Center call the National Aquatic
Invasive Species Act imperative to protect the lakesí
ecosystem from collapse. Even now, a new invasive species
enters the lakes every eight months. Shipping groups are
split on which legislation is better. But Levin and Daytonís
bill seems to provide the best long-term solutions and
deserves more support than it has received so far. Invasive
species can devastate an ecosystem by impacting economics
and native wildlife. Congress must choose the solution
that will best keep our nationís biodiversity intact.