Two US Senate Environment and Public Works subcommittees got an earful from Senator Carl Levin (D-Mich.) today on the threat menacing invasive species bring to the Great Lakes.
“Mr. Chairmen and Ranking Members, the impact of invasive species on Michigan’s native wildlife is large,” Levin said in a prepared statement. He waxed on about zebra mussels and big headed carp, about smelly coastlines, declining native fish populations, birds choking with botulism and foul tasting drinking water.
Levin used the platform to call for a “strong” ballast water management program. “Maritime commerce is the largest pathway for new species to be introduced into our waters, and I believe that we need to enact legislation that will require ballast water discharge management that will result in ballast water treatment technology onboard ships as soon as possible. I support establishing a strong national ballast water technology standard for all ships. Technology that meets this standard would be approved for a minimum period of time—five, eight, or 10 years,” he stated in prepared testimony.
Since pretty much anyone can use the internet to import live organisms into the country, Levin advocated for a screening process. He was really advocating for the Great Lakes Collaboration Implementation Act that he and Senator George Voinovich (R-OH) introduced because it has just such a screening process in it.
Finally, the Michigan Senator said he will introduce a bill that would simplify the process of listing a species as injurious under the Lacey Act. Listing a species under the Lacey Act prohibits the interstate transportation or importation of a species without a permit. Sen. Levin feels strongly that the bighead carp should be listed.
Since prevention is the key to saving the wildlife in the Great Lakes region, as well as many other states that are suffering both ecologically and economically from the spread of zebra mussels and other invasive species, Levin encouraged the committee to get behind these three pieces of legislation to combat the growing threat.