Feds agree to clamp down on invasive species

The agreement will regulate discharges from ships' ballast water in the Great Lakes and elsewhere.

March 8, 2011

By Gabriel Spitzer

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Asian Carp are an invasive species threatening the Great Lakes' ecosystems.

Federal regulators have struck a deal with environmental groups to clamp down on invasive species in waterways like the Great Lakes. The legal settlement paves the way to treat invaders carried in ships’ ballast water more like other pollution. Those exotic species, such as viruses and non-native shellfish, can disrupt the food web in waterways.

“The Great Lakes have for too long been a living laboratory teeming with invasive species,” says Joel Brammeier is president of the Alliance for the Great Lakes, which was party to the original lawsuit. “This is a chance to put a stop to that experiment.”

The EPA has agreed to launch a process to quantify the amount of invasive species a ship can discharge. The deal resolves a lawsuit filed by the Natural Resources Defense Council, the National Wildlife Federation and others.

The Lake Carriers Association, an industry group that has fought tougher ballast-water regulations, declined to comment on the settlement.