Watch # 290
Great Lakes United
Canadian Auto Workers call upon Canada to promote Ďgreení
Great Lakes navigation
The movement for sustainable navigation in the Great
Lakes-St. Lawrence ecosystem recently gained an important
ally. Canadian Auto Workers Union leadership debated and
passed two resolutions at last Decemberís council meeting:
one, dealing with the Great Lakes Navigation System Review;
and the second, with the prevention of aquatic invasive
species. Both resolutions essentially challenge the Canadian
government to take charge of navigation policy and practices
for the benefit of the basinís workers, residents and
Canadian Detroit Riverkeeper president and member of
CAW Local 200, Ken Cloutier spoke to the first resolution,
explaining Canada and the U.S. governments are currently
engaged in a study to assess the costs and benefits of
maintaining the navigation system in its current size.
However, the U.S. government is operating under congressional
authorization to examine expanding the Great Lakes navigation
system to allow larger foreign vessel access.
"This could lead to massive dredging and all the
problems that come with it. Rather than embark in a U.S.
study that has already polarized Great Lakes interests,
Canada needs to clearly define a study that would ensure
efficient transportation networks exist in the Great Lakes
region networks that foster jobs, but do not destroy the
Great Lakes. Old ways of doing business may not be the
way to go," said Cloutier.
Great Lakes United vice-president and CAW Local 1520
retiree, Jim Mahon spoke to the second resolution. "The
Great Lakes are under assault from invasive species. These
invasions are causing catastrophic costs to industries,
negatively impacting health, jobs and our economy,"
Mahon further explained the primary pathway for invasive
species entering the Great Lakes is via the ballast tanks
of foreign vessels using the St. Lawrence Seaway to access
Great Lakes ports. Once in the Great Lakes, invasive species
can even migrate in to other watersheds.
Among other things, the resolutions call upon Canada
· Engineering needs and costs associated with maintaining
the regionís domestic shipping and related jobs;
· Economic impacts from invasive species introduced
by foreign ships since the opening of the St. Lawrence
· Economic benefits of building a duplicate set
of locks on the Great Lakes.
Further, they asked the federal government to:
· Inspect each ship when arriving from outside
the Great Lakes basin and issue clean inspection certificates
before entering the basin;
· Prohibit entry to ships that fail to pass inspection;
· Provide foreign ships with the option to off-load
cargo for transportation by Lake ship, rail or truck into
the Great Lakes region; and
· Urge the U.S. to hydraulically separate the Great
Lakes and Mississippi River basin, thereby blocking a
potential source of invasive species.
Members of Great Lakes United, the CAW represents 270,000
workers, including some workers employed in the maritime
fishing industry and on Great Lakes ships and canals.
Over the years the union has provided invaluable leadership
and support for many environmental issues. Their voice
on these significant aquatic issues will surely help preserve
and protect related jobs and the ecosystem that makes
them possible. For copies of the resolutions, please contact
Mark Your Calendars! Great Lakes Unitedís Annual General
Meeting: June 4-6th, 2004, Mercyhurst College, Erie, Pennsylvania,
Great Lakes Unitedís Habitat and Biodiversity Task Force
produces Habitat Watch with support from the George Gund
Foundation and GLU coalition members. The task force is
committed to protecting natural areas, wildlife, and strong
conservation laws across the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence
River ecosystem. To join the coalition, subscribe, or
send stories, contact GLU at: (716) 886-0142; fax: (716)
886-0303; or email: email@example.com.
Past issues of Habitat Watch can be found at: http://www.sustain.org/Bulletins/index.cfm