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E-M:/ Action Alert: Shipping industry threatens to sink invasive species protections

Michigan United Conservation Clubs:  The First Voice for Michigan's Great Out-of-Doors

Action Alert:

Shipping industry threatens to sink invasive species protections!

Action: Call the Governor today and tell her that the Ballast Water Permit must take effect on January 1, 2007 . The permit includes the requirement to treat all ballast water on ships entering Michigan ports. Tell her that the shipping industry has spent their time trying to stop regulation instead of stopping the spread of invasive species. Governor Granholm's office can be reached at 517-373-3400.

Problem : In less than one generation, aquatic invasive species have radically changed, some would say destroyed, our Great Lakes ' ecosystem. This issue has been widely discussed and lamented with little action taken toward real solutions to this problem. Meanwhile, every eight months a new invasive enters our lakes primarily through the discharge of ballast water, causing further stress on our severely threatened resources. Aquatic invasives threaten the diversity and abundance of native species in the Great Lakes , damage the ecologic stability of affected waters and jeopardize commercial, agriculture, and recreational activity. In large areas of Lake Michigan the base of the food chain has disappeared due to competition with zebra mussels. Zebra mussels are also being targeted as the cause for the collapse of the salmon fishery in Lake Huron . Round gobies, spiney water flea, and sea lampreys are other invasive which are wreaking havoc on our lakes.

Frustrated with the lack of action on the federal level, the Michigan legislature created the first ballast water permit requirement in the nation. PA 32 and 33 of 2005 prohibit ocean-going vessels from discharging ballast water into Michigan 's waters (including the Great Lakes ) after January 1, 2007 , unless they have a permit issued by the DEQ. This requirement was set after years of study and deliberation. It followed a thorough DEQ study (also required by bipartisan legislation enacted in 2001) that identified several different technologies that are both effective in removing invasive species from ballast water discharges and commercially available. The DEQ met with stakeholders and developed a draft general permit for ballast water discharges from ocean-going vessels, which it released for formal public comment in September of 2006. The DEQ is now ready to issue the final general permit, which gives ocean-going vessels the option of installing four commercially available technologies, or choosing to install alternative technologies that have equivalent effectiveness. At this final hour, the shipping industry is putting on a full-court press to have the Department of Environmental Quality delay implementation of the permit requirements for at least a year. This is totally unacceptable for every conservationist who has watched our Great Lakes be destroyed!

Call Governor Granholm's office today (517-373-3400). Tell her:

  You're tired of seeing our Great Lakes being destroyed by invasive species

  You expect her to require the shipping industry to treat all their ballast water starting January 1, 2007. Michigan 's ballast water permit MUST move ahead as scheduled

  Michigan is the Great Lakes state and we expect the Governor of Michigan to be THE leader on this issue.

 Background : Beginning January 1, 2007 , all oceangoing vessels engaging in port operations in Michigan are required to obtain a permit from the DEQ. The Department may issue a permit only if the applicant can demonstrate that the vessel will not discharge an aquatic nuisance species (ANS) or, if the vessel discharges ballast water or other waste or waste effluent, that the vessel's operator will use environmentally sound technology as determined by DEQ. In addition shippers are required to provide information about the amount and time of discharges. DEQ has approved four treatment techniques or may review alternative treatment techniques if found comparable.


Erin McDonough

Resource Policy Specialist

Michigan United Conservation Clubs

P.O. Box 30235

Lansing, MI 48909-7735






April L. Bennett

Resource Policy Assistant

Michigan United Conservation Clubs


(517) 346-6472