act in face of $200 million losses to Great
Lakes region by invasive species
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
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
?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
?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
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.
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