limit exotic species in the Great Lakes
Ohio Plain Dealer
- Imported nuisances
like sea lampreys and zebra mussels that afflict the Great
Lakes have spurred lawmakers to try limiting the spread
of non-native species around the United States.
Today, a group
of lawmakers are introducing legislation to require federal
screening of exotic imports like snakeheads and Asian
carp that have escaped into waterways and endangered native
fish. Their bill also would regulate ballast discharges
by shippers who unwittingly introduce aquatic stowaways
from abroad when they release water they have stored to
balance cargo loads.
The bill also
would finance research on ways to sterilize ships' ballast
tanks, which could prevent the spread of live organisms
picked up in foreign waters. Methods being examined include
chlorination, ultraviolet light, ultrasound, filtration,
and electric currents.
"Tons of scientific
projects all over the world are investigating this," said
Steven Fisher, executive director of the American Great
Lakes Ports Association, which represents Cleveland's
port authority and backs the bill.
"Even as foreign
creatures are coming into the U.S., creatures from the
U.S. are hopping rides into Europe and Africa."
who support the bill include Republican Sens. Mike DeWine
and George Voinovich, as well as Rep. Steve LaTourette,
a Madison Republican, and Democratic Reps. Dennis Kucinich
of Cleveland, Sherrod Brown of Lorain and Marcy Kaptur
have cost hundreds of millions of dollars worth of damage
to Great Lakes fishermen, boaters, manufacturers and shippers,"
it's late in the year to introduce legislation, LaTourette
said the bill has wide bipartisan support and could pass
without controversy after Congress completes its wrangling
on spending bills. LaTourette and former Ohio Democratic
Sen. John Glenn authored a bill six years ago that regulated
ballast water exchanges before ships could enter the Great
Lakes. The new bill would set national standards.
of Natural Resources Director Sam Speck said passage of
the legislation was critical to protecting Great Lakes
fisheries and water quality, and that Ohio Republican
Gov. Bob Taft had urged members of Congress to support
"Given that Lake
Erie is the most productive of the lakes in terms of fishing,
invasive species pose a tremendous potential economic
threat to Ohio," Speck said.
of the bill include the Union of Concerned Scientists,
the Environmental Defense Fund, and the U.S. Great Lakes
Lake Carriers Association agrees that exotic species must
be controlled, but it may withdraw support if the bill
ends up restricting ballast water transfers between the
Great Lakes, said association president George Ryan.
represents 58 mammoth ships that travel the Great Lakes
and use as much as 15 million gallons of ballast water
"If we're not
allowed to discharge Lake Erie water in Lake Superior,
we won't be able to move the ships," Ryan said. "There
is no such thing as a Jiffy Lube on the Great Lakes where
you can discharge 15 million gallons of water."
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