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GLIN==> PRESS RELEASE: Great Lakes region losing $200 million a year to invasive species



Great Lakes region losing $200 million a year to invasive species


(July 16, 2008 - Notre Dame, IN)- Preliminary data being released today by researchers at the University of Notre Dame, Center for Aquatic Conservation, estimates that invasive species that arrived in the ballast tanks of ocean-going vessels may cost the Great Lakes region upwards of $200 million dollars a year in losses to commercial fishing, sport fishing, and the area’s water supply.


“We wanted to apply objective scientific research to one of the most pressing questions being asked today: what are the benefits and costs of shipping in the Great Lakes region?” said David Lodge, Director of the Center for Aquatic Conservation at the University of Notre Dame.  “The distributions of losses we found with invasions from shipping may be the tip of the iceberg. There is much more economic information to uncover.”


These losses are for the U.S. alone, with comparable losses expected in Canada.  Losses may also grow as these invaders spread from the source of invasion and across the country on boats, recreational equipment, or natural migration.


Since the St. Lawrence Seaway opened to ocean-vessels in 1959, 68% of the 84 invasive species that have now become established in the Great Lakes can be linked to ocean-going ships, with ballast water harboring most species. This includes species such as the zebra and quagga mussels, first discovered twenty years ago and now spread across North America as far as Nevada and California, as well as more recent invaders such as the Eurasian ruffe, round goby and spiny water flea.


The researchers found that for only a few of the 57 species brought in by ocean-vessels over the past 50 years, are the impacts relatively well known. For example, Eurasian ruffe compete with yellow perch and walleye, reducing populations, round goby are voracious benthic predators, preying on smallmouth bass nests, and zebra and quagga mussels are responsible for substantial biofouling, and altered water clarity and energy flows. However, for the majority of ballast-introduced species, impacts are little known, with published research available on only 22 of the 57 shipping mediated invaders.


“Preliminary results from the study indicate that commercial fishing, recreational fishing and other industries who use Great Lakes water are likely experiencing substantial losses every year in comparison to a scenario of the Great Lakes never having been invaded,” said Dr. David Finnoff, assistant professor of economics at the University of Wyoming, a co-investigator on this project. “The distributions of our results really point to the importance of recreational values in the Great Lakes. The bulk of the losses look to be concentrated in the region’s large sport fishing industry.”


“We took on this research project because costs and benefits needed to be quantified to determine the value of potential solutions to stop new invasions,” said John D. Rothlisberger from the University of Notre Dame. “Knowing how much a practice or behavior costs is an essential part of making sound policy decisions.”


Additional Materials:





For more information:


Dr. David Lodge

University of Notre Dame

(574) 631-2849



Dr. David Finnoff

University of Wyoming

(307) 766-5773







Brent Gibson

Director, Communications

(613) 867-9861

bgibson@glu.org | www.glu.org


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