Loose Limits on Ships Loose Invasive Species on Great Lakes

Round Goby (Ohio Sea Grant)
On December 8th, the federal government unveiled its plan to protect the Great Lakes from the scourge of invasive species.  Unfortunately, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed limits on ships’ discharges of ballast water that are too loose to prevent the introduction and spread of invasive species.  Such discharges have caused the Great Lakes to be infested by species like the zebra and quagga mussels, spiny water fleas, and round gobies.  These and other invasive species currently cost the eight Great Lakes states over $1 billion every five years.

 The EPA’s proposed permit comes on the heels of a long legal battle by NWF and others to force the agency to effectively regulate ballast water under the Clean Water Act.  The new proposal is a marginal improvement over previous regulations, but still allows the discharge of invasive species into the Great Lakes at significant levels.

 EPA will entertain public comments on its proposal from now until February 21, 2012.  NWF will submit written comments to EPA and the states urging them to strengthen the permit.  Watch this space for a summary of NWF’s comments that you can use as a basis for submitting your own.