Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Failed Great Lakes officials are the real invasive species

When it comes to preventing the spread of invasive species in the Great Lakes, the story line is 'maybe later, or 'can't do,' instead of 'can do.'

* For how many years have we been reading stories like this one which simply illustrate the inaction? 
New plan would fight invasive Asian carp with air bubbles, electric shocks, noise
There's always a "New plan..." because sloth is the preferred approach as earlier plans have been blocked, downplayed and dismissed, as I have reported often on this blog as far back as December, 2009
Bad Boosterism: Chicago Tribune Soft-Pedals Fears About The Asian Carp 
I'd say it's a little too soon to declare victory, but let's be honest. The Trib was just speaking up on behalf of its city's sewerage and shipping canal - - an engineering feat about a century old that carries Chicago's waste away from the Great Lakes and down the Mississippi River system.
Barges and recreational boaters navigate the canal, too, using it as a direct, but artificial route to the Mississippi. 
Problem is that the carp have successfully moved up river from the Deep South, swimming against the flow: the canal could be the entry point for the carp, perhaps the ultimate invasive species, to the Great Lakes. 
* And look at this major report in Tuesday's Capital Times::
Great Lakes freighters may have to treat ballast water to curb invasives
Canadian regulators want lakers to treat ballast water by 2024, and environmentalists are pushing for similar rules for the roughly 50 freighters that fly a U.S. flag. There are about 80 lakers under Canadian flags. 
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is expected to develop new ballast water standards by December 2020, and the Coast Guard is supposed to draft implementation rules the following two years.
But industry groups argue researchers have not proved lakers move invasive species, and new regulations would cost hundreds of millions of dollars and grind business to a halt. Lakers handle about half of the $15 billion in cargo that moves around the Great Lakes each year. 
"May have to treat...?" How about 'will delay treating,' because did you notice the doubt shipping interests threw out there?

So someone get back to me after December, 2020.

* Among the most destructive invasive are tiny mussels which cover by the multiple billions the lakes beds, clog pipes, speed up lake bottom algae and damage the entire ecosystem. 

Here's another headline, this time from a blog piece I wrote on March 23, 2009 - - basically ten and a half years ago:

Plan to combat invasive species gets a hearing in Milwaukee Monday
...show your support at a hearing for a plan to prevent further damage to the Great Lakes by invasive species that are dumped into the water when ocean-going freighters flush their ballast tanks. 
* Organizations like Midwest Environmental Advocates and Wisconsin Wildlife Federation have been fighting the good fight.

* But public officials come and go and the merry-go-round continues, as this 2010 blog post reminds us
"Seaway Scott" Walker: Little To Say About Role In Great Lakes, But Why?
Raise your hands if you knew that Scott Walker is the Chairman of the Advisory Board of the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation (SLSDC)?
Since 2004?....
The Corporation and board mission and work, laid out in its 2009 annual report here - - show that it has a role in current Seaway issues:
Invasive species prevention, freighter ballast water control and other important matters that directly impact the Great Lakes regional economy, the relative value of the Seaway, and the overall health and vitality of the Great Lakes - - issues on the front-burner in Wisconsin, a Great Lakes state, but from which Walker is oddly absent.
* For goodness sakes, Dan Egan had spent years writing up these issues at the Journal Sentinel and produced a widely-praised book about them in April, 2018. 
The Death and Life of the Great Lakes
* On top of that authoritative synthesis, let's let the independent publication Science News tie together all this blasé Great Lakes inaction and special-interest obstructionism:
A mussel poop diet could fuel invasive carp’s spread across Lake Michigan
Here's the mussel crop I photographed after a Lake Michigan gale in November. That's what years of stewardship failure produced just north of Bradford Beach on the shores of the largest supply of fresh surface waters on the planet.

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