Scientist calls for closing of Welland
Buffalo Business First
Published December 27th, 2004
A Michigan scientist says the only way to keep unwanted
fish, mussels and microorganisms from entering the Great
Lakes is to close the canal that bisects Ontario's Niagara
"It's time to close the Welland Canal. This is
a simple problem with a simple solution," said Gary
Fahnenstiel, the director of the National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration's Lake Michigan field station
in Muskegon, Mich., in a Sunday interview.
Fahnenstiel worked on a study that is expected to show
that efforts to keep non-indigenous species out of the
Great Lakes have been a failure. The study will be released
next year, according to the Muskegon Chronicle newspaper.
The Welland Canal runs from St. Catharines to Port Colborne,
Ontario, connecting Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. It is
the only passable route for oceangoing ships to bypass
Niagara Falls and enter the lower Great Lakes from the
St. Lawrence Seaway.
Ballast water from ocean ships is blamed for introducing
77 percent of new exotic species to the lakes.
"We have a natural choke point (at the Welland Canal),
and we can shut off the flow of exotics into the Great
Lakes," Fahnenstiel told the Muskegon newspaper.
Shipping-industry officials say that closing the Welland
Canal would cripple the Great Lakes economy. If the canal
were shut, shippers would have to load and unload cargo
in Buffalo, making connections with Atlantic ports by
rail or truck.