[Editor's note: the following is a response to "Ballast water threatens Great Lakes" written by Veronica Carter of the Indiana News Service. The Chamber of Marine Commerce presents this letter as a counterargument to the content of the news article. The Chamber of Marine Commerce is based in Ontario, Canada and services both the U.S. and Canadian shipping industries.]
By Stephen Brooks, President of the Chamber of Marine Commerce
Veronica Carter’s one-source article entitled “Ballast water threatens Great Lakes” is light on facts and heavy on Natural Resources Defense Council supposition.
Zebra- mussels were unintentionally introduced to the Great Lakes via ballast water nearly 30 years ago. However, no new invasive species have been introduced to the Great Lakes by ships in more than a decade and scientists agree that’s because this region has the world’s most stringent regulations requiring all ships to discharge their ballast water while still at sea and to flush their tanks to kill fresh-water organisms. Every single tank of every single ship is inspected before entering the St. Lawrence Seaway to ensure compliance.
Contrary to Ms. Carter’s article and the Natural Resources Defense Council’s inaccurate comments, the legislation they are concerned about (The National Defense Authorization Act) does not weaken ballast water rules. It simply creates one over-arching federal authority in place of the existing patchwork of un-harmonized and often contradictory rules coming from eight Great Lakes states and two federal agencies. Not only does such regulatory bureaucracy and complexity hurt shipping and our economy, it does nothing to further protect our environment.
In future, please feel free to reach out to us any time for additional comment and facts on Great Lakes shipping and the environment or other related subjects.