Coalition Urges Passage of Coast Guard Bill to Protect Great Lakes from Invasive Species

 
PRESS RELEASE
  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date:   April 24, 2008
Contact:   Andy Buchsbaum, National Wildlife Federation, (734) 887-7100, buchsbaum@nwf.org
Jordan Lubetkin, National Wildlife Federation, (734) 887-7109, lubetkin@nwf.org
Tracey McIntire, National Parks Conservation Association, (202) 454-3311, tmcintire@npca.org


Coalition Urges Passage of Coast Guard Bill to Protect Great Lakes from Invasive Species

 ANN ARBOR, MICH. (April 23, 2008)—The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition today urged Congress to pass a bill to prevent aquatic invasive species from entering the Great Lakes and other U.S. waters.

“Congress is on the verge of finally enacting a law to stop ballast water discharges of invasive species into the nation’s waters,” said Andy Buchsbaum, regional executive director of the National Wildlife Federation’s Great Lakes office and co-chair of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition. “They need to move full steam ahead. This is our last, best chance. If this effort sinks, all of our nation’s great waters will suffer devastating and irreversible damage.”

The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote today on the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2007 (H.R. 2830), which contains provisions to stop the introduction of invasive species via ballast water discharge.

“Scientists say that invasive species are the worst problem for the Great Lakes, our national parks, and many of our nation’s waters, and that ballast water discharges are the biggest source,” said Tom Kiernan, president of the National Parks Conservation Association and co-chair of the Coalition. “Passing this bill is essential for halting these invasions. We applaud Rep. James Oberstar for moving this important legislation forward and urge Congress to pass the bill without delay to protect our lakes, our national parks, our economy, our public health and our quality of life.”

Aquatic invasive species are one of the biggest threats facing the Great Lakes. The185 invasive species in the lakes cost citizens, businesses and cities hundreds of millions of dollars per year. A new invasive species is discovered, on average, every 28 weeks.

“The states have been forced to use stopgap measures in the absence of a strong national law,” said Cameron Davis, president of the Alliance for the Great Lakes and co-chair of the Coalition. “But state laws alone cannot solve what is clearly a national problem – invasive organisms that reproduce and travel across state lines. This bill sets highly protective national standards and includes tough enforcement measures. This is our last, best chance for our nation’s waters.”

The Coast Guard bill:

· Establishes for the first time strong ballast water treatment standards;
· Requires ballast water treatment technology on board commercial vessels in 2009 using an interim standard;
· Establishes an aggressive time line for new, stronger U.S. treatment standard starting in 2012; and
· Sets a national goal that ballast water discharged into U.S. waters contains no living organisms by 2015. 

The No. 1 pathway for invasive species like the zebra mussel to enter the Great Lakes is through ballast water discharge from ocean-going vessels. Such ships have introduced more than 70 percent of the non-native invaders since the St. Lawrence Seaway opened in 1959.

For more information click here.

To view NPCA's State of the Parks Great Lakes Report click here.

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