News : General News|
New Rules Seek to Prevent Invasive Stowaways
April 10, 2012 -- Nearly a quarter-century has passed since an oceangoing ship from Europe docked somewhere in the Great Lakes and discharged ballast water carrying tiny but tenacious zebra mussel larvae from Europe.
Within a few years after they turned up in Lake St. Clair, between Lakes Huron and Erie, the small freshwater mussels and their larger and even more destructive cousins, quagga mussels, had coated lakebeds throughout the region, clogging intake valves and pipes at power, water treatment and manufacturing plants.
The filter-feeding mussels have since helped to upend the ecosystems of the Great Lakes, fouling beaches, promoting the growth of poisonous algae and decimating some native fish populations by eating the microscopic free-floating plant cells on which their food web depends.
“They didn’t just spread — they completely colonized the Great Lakes,” said Andrew Buchsbaum, director of the National Wildlife Federation’s Great Lakes office.
Yet it was not until last month that the Coast Guard issued a federal rule requiring oceangoing freighters entering American waters to install onboard treatment systems to filter and disinfect their ballast water. Read the full story to get the details.
"The regulation, which largely parallels a pending international standard and another planned by the Environmental Protection Agency, sets an upper limit on the concentration of organisms in the ballast water."