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Great Lakes Article:

Scientist calls for closing of Welland Canal
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 Region.

"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.

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