Feds announce $12.5 million to prevent invasive aquatic species from entering the Great Lakes
The federal government is investing $12.5 million over four years in efforts to prevent aquatic invasive species from entering the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River region, Transportation Secretary Omar Alghabra announced Wednesday in known to Windsor.
Alghabra was with Morterm Limited to start the Ballast Water Innovation Program which is part of the Federal Government’s Ocean Conservation Plan.
Ballast water is stored in a ship’s hold or ballast tanks to stabilize it, but it is also a major contributor to non-native aquatic life finding its way into waterways.
Alghabra praised workers at the Port of Windsor for connecting Canada and the United States to the rest of the world.
“But with hundreds of ships calling at this port to take in Canadian grain and salt, they can inadvertently leave behind invasive species when offloading ballast water,” he said.
“The release of this type of water can introduce and spread invasive species that can harm native species, affect local environments, affect fisheries and even disrupt the infrastructure we rely on every day.”
He said zebra mussels entered the Great Lakes through ballast water, and now it costs about $250 million a year to manage their presence.
“This species threatens critical infrastructure such as power plants and water treatment plants, and regularly damages merchant ships and private vessels.”
The money will fund research into better ballast water management systems specifically tailored for the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River, help ensure implementation of new ballast water regulations, allow government to better understand ballast management , and informing the federal government when it does Discussions on international rules and environmental protection.
Alghabra invited experts in the field with ideas to submit proposals for better ballast water management systems.
Ports CEO Steve Salmons said the industry has worked hard over the past decade to better protect the environment.
“Obviously this will be absolutely critical for the shipping industry,” he said.
“The issue of ballasting and protecting our Great Lakes is at the forefront of our shipping industry. I know I deal with these people every day.”
Alghabra said the Port of Windsor is a major international and domestic hub, “at the heart of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway System.”
“It helps Canadians get goods and creates good, good-paying jobs,” he said.