New York to Adopt Tough, New Policies to Stop Devastating Aquatic Invasive Species Introductions
Environmental and Conservation Groups Applaud New Ballast Treatment Regulations
December 18, 2008 (Albany, NY) – Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River advocates today applauded New York State’s latest effort to shut the door on aquatic invasive species introductions. Later this month, a new set of rules from the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) will begin a countdown to requiring stringent ballast treatment onboard ships transiting the state’s waters. Ship ballast is the primary pathway for aquatic invasive species introductions into the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River system and the state’s strong ballast treatment standard makes New York State a world leader in stopping aquatic invasive species noted the groups.
Aquatic invasive species, such as zebra mussels and round gobies, are one of the most significant environmental threats to the health of the River and Lakes. Invasive species foul beaches, wreak havoc on the fishery, clog water intake valves of cities and utilities, and harm fish and wildlife. Aquatic invasive species cost the eight Great Lakes states and its citizens at least $200 million per year, according to researchers at Notre Dame University.
New York State’s new rules, which will go into effect on December 19th, are among the strictest ballast treatment rules in the country. Per the rule, all ships traveling state waters will be required, by January 1, 2012, to have ballast treatment technology on board. Treating ballast water will prevent further introductions of aquatic invasive species.
“In the absence of strong federal ballast clean-up legislation, we are pleased that New York State has stepped up to create strong ballast rules,” noted Jennifer J. Caddick, Save The River Executive Director. “Stringent technology requirements for ships operating throughout the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway will be key in stopping more devastating aquatic invasive species introductions.”
“The New York rule can help prevent the arrival of the next invasive species or pathogen, like the deadly VHS virus. Requiring ballast treatment is critical and will spur real action at the local and federal level to stop new aquatic invaders once and for all,” added Dereth Glance, Executive Program Director for Citizens Campaign for the Environment.
While the conservation groups are supportive of state action, the coalition continues to urge federal Congressional action.
“We know that invasive species deplete our fisheries, damage our economy, and harm some of our greatest public resources. But federal leadership to solve the problem has been sorely lacking. Environmental Advocates of New York applauds the Department of Environmental Conservation for its strong stance and calls on the U.S. Congress to do the same and make similar protections a national standard,” said Katherine Nadeau, Water & Natural Resources Program Association, Environmental Advocates of New York.
“Aquatic invasive species and diseases pose an imminent and growing threat to both freshwater and marine biodiversity in New York’s waters, and Audubon New York commends the DEC for advancing this strong program to curb this threat,” said Sean Mahar, director of Government Relations and Communications for Audubon New York. “As New York’s proposed program is a strong step forward, it is critical, however, for effective regulations to be uniformly implemented across the nation to prevent the introduction and spread of both invasive species and diseases. We strongly urge the federal government to follow New York’s leadership and implement a strong and effective federal program.”
For more information, contact:
Audubon New York: Sean Mahar, (518) 253-7000
Citizens Campaign for the Environment: Dereth Glance, (315) 472-1339
Environmental Advocates of New York: Erica Ringewald, (518) 210-9903
Save The River: Jennifer Caddick, (315) 686-2010