Great Lakes ecology endangered by foreign species

Cargo ships carry invasive species in ballst water
Cargo ships carry invasive species in ballst waterCourtesy AviatorDave
A recently released report warns that the Great Lakes have been invaded by foreign aquatic species resulting in ecological and environmental damage amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars.

Monitor, detect, and take required action

The findings support the need for detection and monitoring efforts at those ports believed to be at greatest risk. The report identified 30 nonnative species that pose a medium or high risk of reaching the lakes and 28 others that already have a foothold and could disperse widely.

The National Center for Environmental Assessment issued the warning in a study released (Jan 5, 09). It identified 30 nonnative species that pose a medium or high risk of reaching the lakes and 28 others that already have a foothold and could disperse widely. (click here to access report)

Flush out ship's ballast tanks with salt water

One preventive measure that works 99% of the time is to flush out the ballast tanks with salty sea water. This usually kills any foreign marine life hitch hiking a ride in the ballast tank water. Both Canada and the United States have made this a requirement for almost two decades now. Both nations also recently have ordered them to rinse empty tanks with seawater in hopes of killing organisms lurking in residual pools on the bottom.

Learn more about invasive species in the Great Lakes

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

ARTiFactor's picture
ARTiFactor says:

Add the Asian tapeworm to the list of invasive species in the Great Lakes. An article in the Journal of Great Lakes Research by Canadian David Marcogliese reports an outbreak of Asian tapeworms has occurred in Lake Huron walleye. (click link in red to read more)

posted on Sun, 01/11/2009 - 8:21pm
Sorany ka's picture
Sorany ka says:

They have do something about the ships like try to make a device to clean the ship more often. When they come in and out of the oceans it brings in the species which can kill off the fish and everthing in the Great Lakes.

posted on Mon, 01/12/2009 - 10:08am
rayiaharris's picture
rayiaharris says:

they do need to start cleaning the ships

posted on Mon, 01/12/2009 - 10:58am
ARTiFactor's picture
ARTiFactor says:

I read about a study where microwave treatment can be an effective tool for ballast water treatment. I think the cost might have been one million dollars per ship, though.

posted on Mon, 01/12/2009 - 12:06pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Environmentalists filed suit against the Environmental Protection Agency on Monday, on the grounds that US ballast water rules for oceangoing ships don't do enough to protect US coastal waters and the Great Lakes against invasive species. They want the government to require onboard systems for sterilizing ballast tanks. But, as Art pointed out above, systems like that are expensive. On the other hand, so are the effects of some invasive species and invasive species eradication efforts. Stay tuned...

posted on Tue, 01/13/2009 - 12:22pm

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