Monday, October 5, 2015

Toughened rules can more effectively bar Great Lakes invasive species

Good that a US Appeals Court has intervened to force the US EPA to toughen rules that fail to more fully protect the Great Lakes from ruinous invasive species which hitch a ride through the St. Lawrence Seaway in freighters' ballast tanks filled on inbound journeys with ocean water.

That water helps balance the ships: at issue is how and where the tanks get flushed and decontaminated. 

This is not a new matter, regrettably, as this 2010 posting indicates:

The Great Lakes have been assaulted by invasive species that arrive in the ballast tanks of ocean-going freighters and have decimated native fish populations and introduced voracious mussels that contribute to fetid algae growth along the lakeshore.
Wisconsin is moving towards rolling back its 2010 rule-making requiring a very rigorous program with tough standards, says the DNR.
Seems to me that's a misstep - - one leading statewide group had criticized the original state action as insufficient - -  but also highlights how the various Great Lakes states have different practices, though it's a shared water resource under regional management.
And props to the Journal Sentinel for supporting the closing altogether of the Seaway - - the ultimate fix.

Tiny zebra mussels have spread throughout the Great Lakes.

 Quagga mussels - - one such invasive among hundreds in the Great Lakes, and many more species worldwide - - filter water along the Lake Michigan shoreline. 
File:Quagga mussels GLERL 1.jpg
That makes the water clearer - - not a good thing - - as extra sunlight spurs weed and algae growth and leaves behind a smell mistaken for sewerage along the lakefront when the enhanced vegetation eventually rots.

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