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E-M:/ Legislation to protect Great Lakes

From: gov_office@MICHIGAN.GOV [mailto:gov_office@MICHIGAN.GOV]
Sent: Monday, June 06, 2005 4:56 PM
Subject: Legislation to protect Great Lakes


Governor Signs Legislation to Protect Great Lakes from Threat of Aquatic Nuisance Species


LANSING – Governor Jennifer M. Granholm has signed legislation that will help protect the Great Lakes from the dangers of non-native aquatic invaders by requiring permits for all oceangoing ships that dock in Michigan ports.  The bill-signings come at the beginning of Aquatic Invasive Species Week in Michigan.


“Those who rely on the Great Lakes for economic and recreational activities have a responsibility to protect them,” Granholm said.  “Requiring ships to prove they pose no threat to our health and safety will help protect our people, our environment and our economy.”


Vessels often take in thousands of gallons of ballast water to stabilize the ship when traveling without cargo.  The ballast water is then released in port as new cargo is loaded, potentially releasing millions of live organisms into the lake.  Often these invasive species have no natural predators in their new environment and can crowd out native species, cause environmental damage, or transport foreign disease or parasites.  There are currently more than 160 identified non-native species in the Great Lakes, including sea lampreys and zebra mussels .  Damage estimates from zebra mussels alone exceed $3 billion over the past ten years.


“Invasive species cost literally billions of dollars to control once they are introduced to the Great Lakes ecosystem, and often, trying to control them is a losing battle,” said Ken DeBeaussaert, director of the Office of Great Lakes. 

“These new laws are the right thing to do to protect the lakes, and it makes economic sense to spend money on keeping invasive species out, rather than the much larger cost of trying to control them once they are here,” added Steven Chester, director of the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).


House Bill 4603 (Public Act 32 of 2005) and Senate Bill 332 (Public Act 33 of 2005) mandate that all oceangoing vessels apply for a permit from the DEQ before being allowed to use Michigan ports.  To qualify for the permit, ships must prove they either will not discharge ballast water or they are equipped to prevent discharge of aquatic nuisance species.  Failure to comply with permitting requirements could result in a fine of up to $25,000 per day.  The bills also require DEQ to form a coalition with our Great Lakes’ neighbors to implement policies to protect the waters.


Granholm commended Representatives Kathleen Law (D-Gibraltar) and Matt Gillard (D-Alpena) and Senators Ray Basham (D-Taylor) and Liz Brater (D-Ann Arbor) for their work on this issue.  Each has introduced a resolution calling on the Coast Guard to join in this fight by eliminating exemptions that allow many ships to enter the Great Lakes without inspection under federal law.


HB 4603 was sponsored by Representative David Palsrok (R-Manistee).  SB 332 was sponsored by Senator Patty Birkholz (R-Saugatuck Township).


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