Better late than never: Coast Guard gets serious about attacking invasive species, regulating ballast water

After years of failing to stem the tide of invasive species entering the Great Lakes via ocean freighters, the U.S. Coast Guard will begin a series of public hearings Friday on proposed ballast water discharge regulations.

The proposed regulations would govern the amount of organisms that ships could pump into the Great Lakes and other U.S. waters when discharging ballast water.

This could be a groundbreaking regulation that the lakes have needed for over a decade. The problem is that the regulations, as proposed, wouldn’t cover all ships operating on the Great Lake for more than a decade.

The proposed rule isn’t strong enough to protect the Great Lakes as quickly as needed, according to the Alliance for the Great Lakes.

The Alliance issued an action advisory urging people to “tell the Coast Guard in no uncertain terms that it needs to stop introductions of aquatic invasive species into the Great Lakes — now! ”

Here are few facts about the proposed rules:

• The final standard for ballast water discharges is excellent, and as good as the strongest state standard on the books (California’s).

• The timeline for implementing the final standard is weak. Ships could avoid complying until after 2020.

• There is a “feasibility review” of technology that could endlessly delay implementation of the final standard.

• It’s critical for the administration to get this right the first time so there are no further delays to getting technology installed on board ships.

You can let the Coast Guard know what you think about stopping the tide of invaders into the Great Lakes this Friday, Oct. 2, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Hilton Garden Inn in downtown Chicago, at 10 E. Grand Avenue.

The Coast Guard hopes to provide a live webcast of each public meeting at starting at 9 a.m. Central. Written comments can be submitted to the Coast Guard’s online docket via on or before Nov. 27, 2009.

Download the proposed rule and instructions for submitting written comments here:

Download the draft programmatic environmental impact statement here:

Download a summary fact sheet on the rulemaking:

Download an overview of the implementation timeline:

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2 Responses to Better late than never: Coast Guard gets serious about attacking invasive species, regulating ballast water

  1. Let’s hope the Coast Guard will really do what they say they will do.

  2. Don mitchel says:

    Dear sirs, Unless we have a national policy that congress will accept, we will never have anything, that will adequately address the problem of international shipping being in charge of how clean ballast water is. Without the US setting world precedent through legislation in all America’s waters, Ocean currents, winds, terrorist, new shipping lines opening in the Arctic, future Deep Sea bed mining and exploration, releasing new microbes etc. the continued acceptance of untreated dumping and uptake of ballast in the High Seas will not fix the problem because, as polluted air emissions have proven, “that the solution to pollution is not dilution”, so will this issue in regards to water.
    Don Mitchel