Our friends at the National Environmental Coalition on Invasive Species are circulting a letter to urge Congress to pass comprehensive legislation to stop invasive species from entering the Great Lakes and other U.S. waterways. Here’s some information about that worthy effort:
“It could not be clearer. Congress must pass a comprehensive aquatic invasive species bill this year. A letter saying as much is being sent to members of Congress this month, and we’d like to get as many organizations signed on in support as possible. If you’re affiliated with an organization that is interested in signing on to the letter, please contact Lindsay Graham by Wednesday, April 18.
“A perfect storm is brewing on the issue of invasive species in the Great Lakes, and Congress must take action. As noted in the January issue of this newsletter, a new invader that likely arrived in the ballast tank of an ocean going ship – the “bloody-red shrimp” – has been found in the Great Lakes. Also making its way through the Great Lakes, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake, is the deadly fish virus viral hemorrhagic septicemia (VHS). Like the bloody-red shrimp, the VHS virus is thought to have arrived via ballast discharge. Currently a new invasive species is discovered in the Great Lakes every 28 weeks.
“Despite a federal district court ruling directing the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate ballast discharge of ocean going vessels under the Clean Water Act, the agency has shown an unwillingness to act. To add insult to injury, the shipping industry is suing the first state (Michigan) that has passed a law trying to protect itself from the invasive species that can accompany ballast discharge. Conservation groups Michigan United Conservation Clubs, National Wildlife Federation, and Alliance for the Great Lakes have filed a motion to intervene in the case. Seeing no help from the federal government, several other Great Lakes states are considering regulations similar to what Michigan passed.
“So what does this all add up to? One invasive species expert calls it a federal “loophole the size of an ocean freighter”. Every day we wait, the problem gets worse and the solutions get more costly. Please add your organization’s voice to the many that are already calling on Congress to act swiftly to protect our waterways so our kids can enjoy them the way we have.”