IJC Commissioners Appear before Canadian Parliamentary Committee
On Tuesday, February 10, 2003 the International Joint Commission appeared before the House of Commons Standing Committee of Fisheries and Oceans to give evidence calling for immediate action on stopping the spread of invasive species in the Great Lakes and other boundary waters.
Canadian Chair, the Rt. Hon. Herb Gray noted:
We believe immediate Canadian Government federal action is required to make compulsory by regulation improved ship's ballast water management procedures. ... The Great Lake region's sense of the biological and economic urgency of the problem drives the call for more federal leadership and immediate steps to prevent further introduction and spread of alien invasive species.
U.S. Chair Dennis Schornack told the Committee:
Let me be blunt - the gateway to the Great Lakes is controlled by our two nations. As two nations dedicated to maritime free trade, we have always laid a welcome mat at this door. But as nations also dedicated to conserving a world-class freshwater resource, we must take strong measures to keep our lakes free of unwanted invaders and open to commerce. ... As highlighted in our 11th Biennial Report on Great Lakes Water Quality, the IJC continues to call for a reference to address each of these recommendations and "to coordinate and harmonize binational efforts for action to stop this ongoing threat to the economy and the biological integrity of the Great Lakes. ... let me remind the committee that in 1978, Canada and the United States agreed to a standard calling for the zero discharge and virtual elimination of persistent toxic chemicals in the Great Lakes. Now, 25 years later, Canada and the United States must be guided by that same vision as we act to stop biological contamination that is just as persistent and just as dangerous as chemical contamination.
Commissioner Robert Gourd advised:
The Commission has long recognized the threat of alien invasive species to the Great Lakes St. Lawrence ecosystem. As far back as September 1990, the Commission in collaboration with the Great Lakes Fishery Commission issued a special report recommending that all oceangoing ships at minimum be required to exchange their ballast in mid-ocean before entering the Great Lakes. We also recommended the United States and Canada, through their Coast Guards and other responsible agencies coordinate their ballast water exchange and treatment programs as fully as possible for purpose of standardization, monitoring, and enforcement. Simply said this has yet to happen.
For a copy of the Commissioners full statements please go to: www.ijc.org