Another New Great Lakes Invasive Species?

We want to keep the Clean Water Act working for the Great Lakes. But the shipping industry wants an exemption for ballast water, even though ballast water is the primary source of ecosystem-destroying invasive species like quagga mussels and bloody red shrimp.

One of the industry’s often-repeated talking points goes a little like this:

What are you so worked up about? We don’t need the Clean Water Act. Since we’ve started treating ballast water by saltwater flushing, we haven’t found any new invasive species in the Great Lakes.

Not anymore. EPA just found a new non-native species in Lake Erie. That species, Brachionus leydigii, is a zooplankton usually found in Europe, Asia, and Australia. And last November, EPA announced that it had found Thermocyclops crassus, another non-native zooplankton, in Lake Erie. All signs point to the shipping industry as the likely source.

The discovery of new non-native species tells us that what we’re doing now is not enough for the Great Lakes. Moving forward, we need the Clean Water Act, not an exemption for special interests, so that states and the federal government can protect sensitive ecosystems from new invasive species before it’s too late. 

About the Authors

Rebecca Riley

Legal Director, Nature program

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