Bill Undermines Invasive Species Protections for Great Lakes
The National Wildlife Federation has opposed provisions in a federal bill that would be a devastating setback in the effort to stop aquatic invasive species from entering the Great Lakes and other U.S. waters through the ballast discharge of foreign ships.
“This bill is bad for the Great Lakes,” said Andy Buchsbaum, regional executive director of the National Wildlife Federation’s Great Lakes office. “It leaves the door open for invasive species to enter the lakes through the discharge of ships’ ballast water. Those invaders, like zebra mussels, have polluted our water, killed our fish and cost us jobs. You’d think after the devastation we’ve seen in the Great Lakes from that our leaders would learn. After years of inaction, the federal government needs to enact stronger—not weaker—protections.”
The Commercial Vessel Discharges Reform Act of 2011(HR 2838) would thwart efforts to stop the introduction of non-native species through ballast water by:
- Adopting a non-protective standard from the International Maritime Organization (IMO) that would continue to allow invasive species into U.S. waters
- Delaying even that standard by up to 10 years
- Preventing states and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from setting protective and effective standards
- Making it difficult, if not impossible, to add new protections, even if the EPA and other agencies determine that the IMO standard is not doing the job
- Stopping citizens from being able to enforce the law
There are more than 180 non-native aquatic species in the Great Lakes, with one being discovered on average every seven months. These invaders foul beaches, harm commercial and recreational fishing, clog power plants and municipal water infrastructure, and disrupt the Great Lakes food chain leading to the regional extinction of species, bird die-offs and dead zones where no fish and wildlife can survive.
More than 65 percent of aquatic invasive species entering the Great Lakes since the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1959 have arrived in the ballast tanks of oceangoing cargo vessels.
Aquatic invasive species cost the region’s citizens, businesses, utilities and cities more than $200 million every year in damages and control costs.
Despite the staggering costs associated with invasive species, the federal government has failed to put in place adequate protections—leaving it up to the shipping industry to voluntarily clean up its act. After years of inaction by both the shipping industry and the federal government, states such as New York and Michigan enacted laws to protect its citizens and business owners from the influx of harmful non-native species by mandating foreign ships clean and filter their dirty ballast water before discharging into U.S. waters.
Shipping industry attempts to overturn those laws failed—as courts consistently ruled that states had the legal authority to protect their water quality from biological pollution. As state protections prepare to take effect (New York’s standard goes into effect Jan. 1, 2013), shipping interests are turning to the federal government to preserve the status quo.
“This bill is designed to keep the shipping industry off the hook and violates state’s right to protect their waters from invasive species,” said Marc Smith, senior policy manager for the National Wildlife Federation’s Great Lakes office. “This bill preserves the woefully inadequate status quo and continues to leave the Great Lakes vulnerable to future invasions. These provisions need to be stripped out of the bill so that we can protect our Great Lakes, drinking water, economy and way of life for people and wildlife now and for generations to come.”
For more National Wildlife Federation news, click here.
For more information, click here.
At first glance, you wouldn't think avocados and almonds could harm bees; but a closer look at how these popular crops are produced reveals their potentially detrimental effect on pollinators.
Migratory beekeeping involves trucking millions of bees across the U.S. to pollinate different crops, including avocados and almonds. Timothy Paule II / Pexels / CC0<p>According to <a href="https://www.fromthegrapevine.com/israeli-kitchen/beekeeping-how-to-keep-bees" target="_blank">From the Grapevine</a>, American avocados also fully depend on bees' pollination to produce fruit, so farmers have turned to migratory beekeeping as well to fill the void left by wild populations.</p><p>U.S. farmers have become reliant upon the practice, but migratory beekeeping has been called exploitative and harmful to bees. <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/10/health/avocado-almond-vegan-partner/index.html" target="_blank">CNN</a> reported that commercial beekeeping may injure or kill bees and that transporting them to pollinate crops appears to negatively affect their health and lifespan. Because the honeybees are forced to gather pollen and nectar from a single, monoculture crop — the one they've been brought in to pollinate — they are deprived of their normal diet, which is more diverse and nourishing as it's comprised of a variety of pollens and nectars, Scientific American reported.</p><p>Scientific American added how getting shuttled from crop to crop and field to field across the country boomerangs the bees between feast and famine, especially once the blooms they were brought in to fertilize end.</p><p>Plus, the artificial mass influx of bees guarantees spreading viruses, mites and fungi between the insects as they collide in midair and crawl over each other in their hives, Scientific American reported. According to CNN, some researchers argue that this explains why so many bees die each winter, and even why entire hives suddenly die off in a phenomenon called colony collapse disorder.</p>
Avocado and almond crops depend on bees for proper pollination. FRANK MERIÑO / Pexels / CC0<p>Salazar and other Columbian beekeepers described "scooping up piles of dead bees" year after year since the avocado and citrus booms began, according to Phys.org. Many have opted to salvage what partial colonies survive and move away from agricultural areas.</p><p>The future of pollinators and the crops they help create is uncertain. According to the United Nations, nearly half of insect pollinators, particularly bees and butterflies, risk global extinction, Phys.org reported. Their decline already has cascading consequences for the economy and beyond. Roughly 1.4 billion jobs and three-quarters of all crops around the world depend on bees and other pollinators for free fertilization services worth billions of dollars, Phys.org noted. Losing wild and native bees could <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/wild-bees-crop-shortage-2646849232.html" target="_self">trigger food security issues</a>.</p><p>Salazar, the beekeeper, warned Phys.org, "The bee is a bioindicator. If bees are dying, what other insects beneficial to the environment... are dying?"</p>
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Australia is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world. It is home to more than 7% of all the world's plant and animal species, many of which are endemic. One such species, the Pharohylaeus lactiferus bee, was recently rediscovered after spending nearly 100 years out of sight from humans.
Scientists have newly photographed three species of shark that can glow in the dark, according to a study published in Frontiers in Marine Science last month.
- 10 Little-Known Shark Facts - EcoWatch ›
- 4 New Walking Shark Species Discovered - EcoWatch ›
- 5 Incredible Species That Glow in the Dark - EcoWatch ›
FedEx's entire parcel pickup and delivery fleet will become 100 percent electric by 2040, according to a statement released Wednesday. The ambitious plan includes checkpoints, such as aiming for 50 percent electric vehicles by 2025.
- Which Is Worse for the Planet: Beef or Cars? - EcoWatch ›
- Greenhouse Gas Levels Hit Record High Despite Lockdowns, UN ... ›
- 1.8 Billion Tons More Greenhouse Gases Will Be Released, Thanks ... ›