Expert advice sought on European green crab and Chinese mitten crab

The federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada is asking for assistance in evaluating the dispersal vectors and impacts of the European green crab, Carcinus maenas, and the Chinese mitten crab, Eriocheir sinensis. The federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada is conducting assessments of the risks posed by these two crab species in Canadian waters. Part of the invasive species risk assessment process that has been adopted by DFO's Centre of Expertise in Aquatic Risk Assessment is an expert opinion survey to identify important vectors and impacts of the species, worldwide. They would appreciate your opinions on one or both of these two crab species, by taking the survey at this link:


Completing the survey should take just a few minutes of your time. DFO has recently completed biological synopses (extensive literature reviews) on green crab and mitten crab and you can access the citations and URLs for these by clicking on the survey. They will be summarizing the results of the survey in early January, and the risk assessments will be reviewed at a meeting to be held in Montreal in February.

You can reply directly to Andrea Locke at LockeA@DFO-MPO.gc.ca


Hawaii Adopts Ballast Water Regulations

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) has adopted administrative rules to manage ballast water discharge from vessels operating in Hawai'i waters, the DLNR said.

The new administrative rules require qualifying vessels to: 1) have a ballast water management plan specifically for that vessel, 2) conduct a mid-ocean ballast water exchange or retain all ballast water on board, and 3) file a ballast water reporting form with the DLNR no later than 24 hours prior to arrival. The data obtained from the ballast water reporting forms submitted by the qualifying vessels will enable the State to make better assessments of the potential risk that an incoming vessel might contain alien species in its ballast water holds. DLNR will be monitoring ballast water reports for submission and compliance.

For more information about the new ballast water rules go to www.hawaii.gov/dlnr/dar or contact Jason Leonard at the Division of Aquatic Resources at 587-0113 or via e-mail at Jason.C.Leonard@hawaii.gov.

Great Ships Initiative 2008 Season

The Great Ships Initiative -- a collaborative effort to end ship-mediated invasive species introductions in the Great Lakes, managed by the Northeast-Midwest Institute -- opened its solicitation for applicants for ballast treatment testing in 2008. Any developer of a promising ballast treatment system is invited to apply for GSI research services, some or all of which may be provided by the GSI free of charge. The research services range from bench-scale testing to full-scale testing in a shore-based facility and on board ships. Contact Allegra Cangelosi at the Northeast-Midwest Institute.


Marine Industry unites to reduce AIS, other environmental impacts

Green Marine was founded by seven marine industry associations in Canada and the United States who decided to further reduce their “environmental footprint” by taking action around six major issues specific to their operations: aquatic invasive species, pollutant air emissions, greenhouse gases, cargo residues, oily water, and conflicts of use in port and terminals (noise, dust, odors, and light). This program covering the St. Lawrence and Great Lakes corridor is the first of its kind in North America. Program participants already include over 25 leaders representing the bulk of marine operations in this corridor. The program also has a newsletter.


Vessel Fouling Bill (AB 740) passes

Aquatic invasive species significantly impact California’s marine ecosystem and coastal economies. Hull maintenance and cleaning of commercial vessels is necessary to remove the attached invasive species. AB 740 would reduce the introduction of invasive species into California’s coastal waters through increased regulation of large commercial vessels entering California ports. Specifically, the bill would expand the current ballast water regulatory program to include cleaning and maintenance of the vessel hulls. For more info, visit the WCBOP's Laws and Regulation Page for California.


Invaders from the Sea wins top award

A documentary on aquatic invasive species (AIS) transported in ballast water has won the gold award in the category of “Best United Nations Feature” at the United Nations Documentary Film Festival. The film was produced by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the United Nations agency responsible for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships, in cooperation with the BBC and the shipping industry.

Invaders from the Sea shows how harmful organisms transported in ballast water by ships have devastated biological and economic resources in many areas around the world, largely due to expanded maritime trade and traffic volume over the last few decades. The film captures the dramatic impact of this issue on the lives of millions of people, using examples of three harmful organisms, which have been transported to new areas in ships’ ballast water: the North American comb jelly, the Golden mussel (Limnoperma fortunei) and toxic algae (aka red tides and harmful algal blooms).

The film also highlights the progress made by IMO and the maritime industry in addressing this issue and the measures that can be taken to prevent the spread of harmful organisms. In addition to the IMO’s International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments, IMO is executing the Global Ballast Water Management Project to assist developing countries in reducing the transfer of harmful aquatic organisms and pathogens in ships’ ballast water.

The IMO documentary features some of the solutions to preventing the spread of invasive species in ships’ ballast water, including exchange of ballast water on the high seas and new technologies that are under development, such as flow-through systems to exchange ballast water continuously while the ship is sailing and methods to kill or render inactive microscopic life forms by, for example, using ozone or ultraviolet light.

Invaders from the Sea is now available from IMO Publishing at: http://vp.imo.org/shop/v020e

For more information, please visit: http://www.imo.org/Newsroom/mainframe.asp?topic_id=1472&doc_id=7970


New Zealand releases new procedures for vessel inspections

Biosecurity New Zealand has finalized the standard, Requirements for Vessels Arriving in New Zealand, which proposed a risk-targeted approach to Vessel Inspections at the Border and introduced the concept of 'low risk vessel'. Regularly visiting vessels that attain this status may receive dispensation from inspection. A trial starts on 15 October with three shipping agents and the ships they handle. The standard will become operational in full for most vessels on April 7, 2008 and for cruise passenger vessels and pleasure craft at the start of the 2008/09 season. Information on clearance of vessels under the new system will be posted on this website under Border and Transportation Requirements. For more info, contact Liz Jones, MAF Biosecurity New Zealand, liz.jones@maf.govt.nz, or read the final standard here.


Senate Panel approves Ballast Bill (S 1578)

The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee approved a bill by voice vote that would set national standards for ballast water in an attempt to prevent invasive species from entering U.S. waters. During markup of the Ballast Water Management Act of 2007 (S. 1578), Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) agreed to continue discussions with Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) to resolve the issue of which federal agency should have lead authority over ballast water. As it stands now, the bill would direct the Department of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other agencies, to set the standards. Boxer, who chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said she opposes the bill as written because it would prevent states from imposing tougher ballast water treatment requirements and preempt the EPA from regulating ballast water discharges under the Clean Water Act. The bill still has a long way to go, however, before full passage through Congress.


NOAA reports on ballast water exchange

NOAA and the Smithsonian have released a technical report that describes the effectiveness of ballast water exchange procedures as a way to reduce aquatic invasive species discharged into U.S. waters, including the Great Lakes and Chesapeake Bay. NOAA's National Center for Research on Aquatic Invasive Species and Smithsonian Environmental Research Center analyzed the delivery of ballast water to the Great Lakes and Chesapeake Bay.

These studies indicate reductions in the risk of invasive species introductions as a result of ballast water exchange. The analysis provides further confidence that overall, there has been a decline in the risk of invasion from ballast water in these regions. In addition, the report addresses a potential gap in the coastal ballast management protection framework where ships traveling less than 200 miles from the U.S. coast are not covered.

The report suggests that a standardized survey program, targeting key coastal ecosystems in the U.S., could provide the high-quality data necessary to (a) assess current invasion risk and (b) measure the performance of multiple management actions, including those of ships and other transfer mechanisms, in terms of invasion occurrence. No such program currently exists.

View the original article here; the full report (TM-142) is available here.


Workshop on Alternate Ballast Water Exchange Areas posted

The Proceedings of the Pacific Ballast Water Group's Workshop on Alternate Ballast Water Exchange Areas: Physical and Biological Oceanographic Considerations has been posted at http://www.psmfc.org/ballast/past_meetings.html. (Other PBWG Meeting presentations can be found there as well).


New Issue of the Aquatic Invasions Journal (free access)

To view current or past issues for free, visit the Aquatic Invasions Journal website.


National Park Services Bans Ballast Water Discharges in Isle Royale NP

Boaters and commercial shippers will be prohibited from emptying ballast tanks within Isle Royale National Park in Lake Superior unless the ballast water is treated to kill invasive species, officials in Michigan said Monday, September 17. Aside from recreational boaters, the new rule will mostly affect Canadian and other foreign freighters calling at the port of Thunder Bay, Ontario.

The emergency regulation is designed to protect the park's fish populations from a deadly virus spreading rapidly across the other Great Lakes, Phyllis Green, superintendent of Isle Royale. Viral hemorrhagic septicemia, or VHS, is among many exotic species that scientists believe have been scooped into ships' ballast tanks in foreign ports, then discharged into the Great Lakes. VHS has not shown up in Lake Superior, but has caused large die-offs of popular game species such as walleye, northern pike and yellow perch in the other lakes and some inland waterways.

The rule will affect Canadian and other commercial ships because the shipping lane between Thunder Bay and the Soo Locks, gateway to Lake Superior, runs through Isle Royale waters, Green said. Nearly all those ships are Canadian or based in other foreign countries, said Glen Nekvasil, spokesman for the Lake Carriers Association, which represents U.S.-flagged freighters that remain inside the Great Lakes system.

Green said lake trout around Isle Royale were especially vulnerable, especially this time of year, when they are congregating to spawn and can spread disease quickly between them. Her order, which takes effect Tuesday, September 18, covers a 684-square-mile (1,772-square- kilometer) area, including 475 square miles (1,230-square-kilometers) of waters within park jurisdiction. Isle Royale is in northwestern Lake Superior.

Fore more info, visit The International Herald Tribune or The Mining Gazette.


IMO Committee grants treatment technology approval

From the Summer 2007 edition of the USCG's Environmental Standards Update:

The IMO's Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) granted both Basic and Final Approval for the PureBallast system submitted by Sweden and Norway, and granted Basic Approval to the NK system submitted by the Republic of Korea.

For more IMO and USCG news, see the Environmental Standards Update archive.

Identifying, Verifying and Establishing Options for Best Management Practices for No Ballast on Board Vessels Final Report released

Access the report here; a summary of report content is as follows:

A “Code of Best Practices for Ballast Water Management” was adopted by the Shipping Federation of Canada and the (U.S.) Lake Carrier's Association in 2000. In 2002 the St. Lawrence Seaway corporations adopted rules making compliance with the Code mandatory for entry into the Seaway. The Code promotes the maintenance of relatively clean ballast tanks through a program of regular inspection and cleaning, combined with a precautionary approach to ballasting with the objective of limiting or avoiding the uptake of ballast under specified conditions. However, there has never been an assessment of the extent to which commercially operating ships can realistically apply these practices or the effectiveness of the stated practices for reducing the risk of new species introductions.

A group of researchers therefore conducted a scientific study to 1) test and evaluate the effectiveness of the current Best Management Practices (BMPs), focusing on a subset that are specifically applicable to ballast management for reduction of invasion risk associated with empty ballast tanks on ships entering the Great Lakes with no pumpable ballast-on-board (NOBOB), and 2) test a set of enhancements to the existing BMPs, focusing on flushing of tanks with deep ocean water, either when the ship is in NOBOB condition or as an intermediate step in deep ocean exchange. In particular, they wanted to examine whether BMPs are effective at reducing the abundance and viability of live organisms and resting stages.

They concluded that current rules for minimizing AIS entry into the Great Lakes are not adequate; the study recommends that ships be required to rinse their ballast tanks with deep-ocean water before entering the St. Lawrence Seaway. The practice, referred to as "salt water flushing" is an inexpensive alternative that would likely help while other approaches for sanitizing ballast water, such as chemicals, heat, ozone, and UV radiation are being explored.


Washington State Updates Ballast Water Law

Please be advised that the following Washington Advisory Codes (WAC) have been revised by Emergency Rule and are effective as of August 14, 2007. Key emergency rule elements include:

WAC 220-77-090 Ballast water management and control:
  • Section (1) Meet RCW 77.120.020(1)(b) that now requires all vessels to report.
  • Section (4) Vessels no longer need to file an Interim Ballast Water Management Report Form. Delete entire section as expired on July 1, 2006.
  • NEW SECTION (4) Define safety exemption filing conditions and requirements.
  • NEW SECTION (5) Define safety exemption review protocols to determine if warranted and if compliance plans or alternative strategies are necessary. Define safety exemption fee and guidance for assessment up to $5,000.
  • NEW SECTION (6) Define civil penalty assessment criteria up to $27,500/day (old penalty: $5000/day).
WAC 220-77-095 Interim ballast water discharge standard approval process:
  • Sections (2) & (3) Change interim ballast water treatment system application and approval process for use in waters of the state. Department has determined that current process is not within fiscal year 2007-09 funding and management capacity.
If you have any questions, please contact Allen Pleus, ANS Coordinator, (360)902-2724 or pleusaep@dfw.wa.gov

Debate surrounding ballast water bill (S 1578) in Senate

When Congress returns after Labor Day, the Senate Commerce Committee hopes to move the Ballast Water Management Act (S. 1578) through Committee. The bill would amend and strengthen existing federal law regulating invasive species from ships - the Non-indigenous Aquatic Nuisance Prevention and Control Act of 1990.

The bill was removed from the agenda prior to the August recess due to ongoing questions related to whether the bill should preserve the possible application of the Clean Water Act to discharges of invasive species from ships. In September 2006, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California vacated a long-standing EPA regulation that exempted discharges incidental to the normal operation of vessels from NPDES permitting requirement. This ruling, which EPA is appealing, applies to vessel discharges that are currently exempted, such as ballast water, sewage, gray water, and bilge water. This court ruling could mean that the states would be required to regulate such discharges from all ships operating in U.S. waters, which EPA estimates as 13 million recreational boats, 81,000 commercial fishing vessels, and 53,000 freight and tank barges.

The Senate bill (S. 1578) intends to uniformly manage ballast water to minimize the discharge of invasive species. Shipping interests have expressed concern that regulating such discharges through the NPDES permit program would be problematic, and that vessel discharges would be subject to numerous and potentially conflicting state and federal regulatory approaches. Some environmental groups and States have opposed the bill because they want ballast water to be regulated under the Clean Water Act. To receive a copy of a memo from the Congressional Research Service regarding potential impacts to states, please contact Kate Zultner (kzultner@coastalstates.org).


New Treatment Technology Report Out

Lloyd’s Register has released a new Guide to Ballast Water Treatment Technology that provides an independent and impartial description and appraisal of commercially available and developing technologies for ballast water treatment. The treatment of ballast water is one of the most significant environmental and operational challenges facing the marine industry today. In the face of new legislation, ship operators will need to choose a ballast water management solution that will work for them. The new Guide is intended to provide an overview of the current status of ballast water treatment technologies. A global requirement for ballast water treatment arises from the International Convention for The Control of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments, which will require certain ship types to use treatment systems from January 1, 2009. It is envisaged that the Guide will be updated in 2008.

Please contact either Gill Reynolds or Nicholas Brown for a copy of the Guide:

Nicholas A K Brown
Marine Communications Manager
Lloyd's Register Marine Business
+44 (0)20 7423 1706

Dr. Gillian Reynolds
Environmental Manager
Research & Development
+44 (0) 7423 1854

Ohio introduces ballast bill similar to Michigan's

Ohio would be empowered to regulate the discharge of ballast water from oceangoing ships into portions of Lake Erie under state control under a bill to be introduced August 15 in the Ohio House. Ohio's bill, to be introduced by Rep. Mike Skindell (D., Lakewood) would require Ohio to act on its own while simultaneously working with other Great Lakes states and Canadian provinces to develop a uniform standard for the entire lake.The move follows the lead of Michigan, which enacted similar legislation that took effect Jan. 1. For the full story, visit http://toledoblade.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070815/NEWS24/708150401

Granholm Calls on Great Lakes Governors, Canadian Premiers for Regional Action on Ballast Water

LANSING - Governor Jennifer M. Granholm today sent a letter to the governors of the Great Lakes states as well as to the premiers of Ontario and Quebec, urging them to follow Michigan's lead in protecting the Great Lakes from aquatic invasive species by enacting legislation that regulates ballast water discharge from ocean-going ships. Granholm's letter follows a recent federal court decision that upheld legislation she signed into law that regulates ballast water discharges in Michigan.
For more questions, contact Liz Boyd, 517-335-6397

Suit against Michigan dismissed, opening door for states aiming to protect Great Lakes

A federal court judge dismissed a lawsuit by nine shipping companies and associations that had hoped to overturn a Michigan law requiring oceangoing ships to sanitize their ballast water to prevent the introduction of invasive species. U.S. District Judge John Feikens ruled Wednesday, August 15,207 that Michigan's law is constitutional. For the complete story, visit: http://www.jsonline.com/story/index.aspx?id=648445

Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy sues state over ballast regulations

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has been sued for allegedly failing to take action to protect Lake Superior and other state waters from a deadly fish virus.
The lawsuit filed in Ramsey County District Court seeks to force the state to prohibit Great Lakes freighters from dumping untreated ballast water into Duluth Harbor and other ports.

The Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy claims in the lawsuit that ballast water contains fish wastes, fish reproductive materials and infected fish that can spread the virus - viral hemorrhagic septicemia - which kills fish by severe hemorrhaging. The virus has infected fish in all of the Great Lakes except Lake Superior and has killed large numbers of more than a dozen species, including such popular game fish as walleye, muskellunge, smallmouth bass, northern pike, yellow perch and black crappies.

The lawsuit contends that in addition to the Great Lakes, many of Minnesota's interior lakes and waters are also at risk. The MPCA said national regulations rather than separate state laws would be a more effective way to regulate ships' wastes. Commissioner Brad Moore said the agency is "doing essential research and analysis" on state rules in case federal authorities don't act.

"We acknowledge that there has to be a national or international solution eventually since ships are travelling all over," said Kevin Reuther, lawyer for the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy. "But Minnesota needs to be a leader, not a follower, especially since Lake Superior isn't infested yet."


Congressional Summary on Ballast Water Management released

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) issued a report on ballast water management to combat invasive species. It provides background on various approaches to ballast water management and reviews current ballast water management laws and programs. Click here for the report.

IMO adopts new ballast guidelines

Ballast Water Management

A primary task before this session was to complete Ballast Water Management Convention assessment. The committee agreed ships built on or after Jan. 1, 2009, must comply with the Convention when traveling to, or within the jurisdictional waters of, states that have ratified it.

The extent of retroactivity of the compliance date for ships flying the flag of non-signatory states remains unknown. Several states (including Norway, Japan, and the United States) disagreed with the above view.

With no agreed position on the extent of retroactivity and without any approved technologies available, the proper course of action for the industry to take is not clear at all. It is important to note that this Convention does not alleviate a yacht from complying with the existing ballast water regulations already in place and heavily enforced in the United States and Brazil.

Antarctic ballast waters exchange

The Committee adopted guidelines providing common guidance for vessels undertaking ballast water exchange in Antarctic waters. They call for ballast that will be discharged in Antarctic waters to first be exchanged before arrival in Antarctic waters (preferably north of the Antarctic Polar Frontal Zone or 60 degrees S, whichever is the farthest north) and at least 200 nm from the nearest land in water at least 200 m deep. If this is not operationally possible, such exchange should be undertaken in waters at least 50 nm from land in water at least 200 m deep.

Only tanks discharged in Antarctic waters would need to undergo exchange. Ballast water taken onboard from Antarctic waters that is intended to be discharged in Arctic, sub-Arctic, or sub-Antarctic waters should be exchanged north of the Antarctic Polar Frontal Zone, and at least 200 nm from the nearest land in water at least 200 m deep. Vessels that have spent significant time in the Arctic should discharge ballast water sediment and clean tanks before entering Antarctic waters (south of 60 degrees S).


Eurasian milfoil responsible for drowning

A 22-year-old man died when he apparently became entangled in thick milfoil in the Columbia River in southeast Washington. The man apparently was not a strong swimmer and got caught in a bed of milfoil -- an invasive weed that grows in many Washington rivers and lakes. Scott Pattison, a spokesman for the Columbia Basin Dive Rescue team, says milfoil can act like quicksand and pull you under if you get tangled in it and begin to struggle. Click here for more information on Eurasion Milfoil and how to prevent this killer weed from invading your lake or river.


EPA Looks for Comments on their new document, “Effects of Climate Change on Aquatic Invasive Species and Implications for Management and Research”

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is announcing a 30-day public comment period for the draft document, "Effects of Climate Change on Aquatic Invasive Species and Implications for Management and Research'' (EPA/600/R-07/084); Technical comments should be in writing and must be received by EPA by September 10, 2007.

The draft "Effects of Climate Change on Aquatic Invasive Species and Implications for Management and Research'' can be downloaded here. Comments may be submitted electronically via http://www.regulations.gov, by mail, by facsimile, or by hand delivery/courier. “To view the Call for Comments,” or more contact information, click here.

For information on the public comment period, contact the Office of Environmental Information Docket; telephone: 202-566-1752; facsimile: 202-566-1753; or e-mail: ORD.Docket@epa.gov. For technical information, contact Britta Bierwagen, NCEA, telephone: 202-564-3388; facsimile: 202-565-0061; or e-mail: bierwagen.britta@epa.gov.

NPR Story: "California Struggles to Protect Waters from Aquatic Invaders"

Since the Gold Rush, California's been a destination for an unwanted hitchhiker. Invasive marine plants and animals can create expensive damage to ecosystems by squeezing out native species. Still, public agencies say it's a challenge to find money and support to prevent problems. As California builds a plan to manage aquatic invasions, KPCC's Molly Peterson examines the effectiveness of programs aimed at stopping seagoing pests. Read or hear the story.

"Communicating Science to the Public and Media" Workshop on August 20 & 21

This FREE workshop will provide the opportunity to engage with communications specialists to discuss the challenges of communicating ocean science. This two-day workshop will present methods to shape science messages, offer traditional and new media exercises, and presentations from a panel of media representatives who cover the science beat.

For more information, email Columbine Culberg at columbine.culberg@noaa.gov, or call (805) 963-3238 x10. More info can also be found in our "Calendar" section.

AIS/Hull Fouling Workshop on August 18

AIS/Hull Fouling Workshop on August 18

For more information on this free workshop in San Francisco, CA, click on the title above.

Great Ships Initiative Opens First Solicitation

The Great Ships Initiative (GSI) has released a Prototype Solicitation offering preliminary research services to qualified developers of treatment systems designed to minimize the presence of live organisms - including microbes and viruses - in ballast water discharge from ships. Applications are due by August 6, 2007. The estimated start date for work is September 17, 2007.

The GSI is a collaborative effort to end the problem of ship-mediated invasive species in the GLSLSS through independent research and demonstration of environmental technology, financial incentives and consistent basin-wide harbor monitoring. To that end, the GSI offers integrated research facilities and services to support development of effective and commercially viable ballast treatment systems.

Comments Needed on Coastal Management Future

The Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management (OCRM), in partnership with the Coastal States Organization, has begun an effort to envision the future of coastal management under the Coastal Zone Management Act to develop a set of core principles and specific options to consider in drafting a proposal for reauthorizing the Coastal Zone Management Act. For additional information or to submit comments, please visit their website.