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GLIN==> PRESS RELEASE: Congress must act in face of $200 million losses to Great Lakes region by invasive species



Congress must act in face of $200 million losses to Great Lakes region by invasive species


Research highlights need for a Congressional solution before fall elections


(July 16, 2008- Buffalo, NY)- Time is running out on a solution to the Great Lakes invasive species problem, and the cost to the region has swelled to at least $200 million a year and is growing, according to a team of scientists and economists.


Preliminary data being released today by researchers at the University of Notre Dame, Center for Aquatic Conservation estimate that invasive species that arrived from the ballast tanks of ocean-going vessels cost the Great Lakes region a minimum of $200 million dollars a year in losses to commercial fishing, sport fishing, wildlife watching and the area’s water supply. This cost is for the U.S. alone, with comparable losses expected in Canada. Losses are expected to increase as these invaders spread from the source of invasion and across the country on boats, recreational equipment, or natural migration.


“Before Congress adjourns for the elections, the Senate must agree to legislation already passed by the House of Representatives that puts in place protections against invasive species in the Great Lakes and all U.S. ports,” said Jennifer Nalbone of Great Lakes United.


She urged presidential candidates Senator Barack Obama [D-IL] and Senator John McCain [R-AZ] as well as all 16 Senators representing the Great Lakes states to reach out to other senators to make this a priority immediately.


“This is a growing national crisis, and one the two candidates are facing in their home states,” said Nalbone. She continued, “In less than 20 years, the tiny quagga mussel has traveled from Illinois to Arizona. A few ocean-vessels introduced these invaders into our heartland, and now they’ve exploded across North America, wreaking havoc along the way.”


The Coast Guard Authorization Act (HR 2850) would require ocean vessels coming to any U.S. port to install treatment technology to clean their ballast water by as early as next year. Scientists have cited ballast water from these ships as the cause of invasive species such as zebra mussels, quagga mussels,the Eurasian ruffe, round goby, and spiny water fleas, entering the Great Lakes.


Meanwhile, the Canadian federal government has defined national ballast water discharge standards to be equivalent to the International Maritime Organization’s standards, but has neither set a national deadline for implementation, nor adopted the international timeline for implementation through ratification of the IMO’s ballast convention.


“It is unacceptable to allow losses to our fisheries and our region to grow when we have solutions that are relatively easy to administer, “said Nalbone. “ Delay by the U.S. and Canadian federal governments will only make the problem of invasive species worse and the solution more costly, which is why federal leaders need to put in place the strong, national protections that we have been seeking for years.”


Additional information on this research and invasive species in the Great Lakes, including  factsheets, press statements, and contacts for fisheries representatives, can be found at http://www.glu.org/english/invasive_species/economy/index.htm.



Jennifer Nalbone

Director, Navigation and Invasive Species

Great Lakes United








Brent Gibson

Director, Communications

(613) 867-9861

bgibson@glu.org | www.glu.org


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