Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Vessel Reporting A Weak Link In National Strategy To Stem The Flow Of Alien Organisms To The U.S.

Date:
July 9, 2002
Source:
Smithsonian Institution
Summary:
Of the estimated 100,000 ships entering U.S. ports from foreign waters each year, only 30 percent reported their ballast water management practices during the first two years that the U.S. Coast Guard mandated them to under the National Invasive Species Act of 1996 (NISA). The finding has prompted the Secretary of Transportation to recommend, in a report to Congress, that future noncompliance carry a penalty.

Of the estimated 100,000 ships entering U.S. ports from foreign waters each year, only 30 percent reported their ballast water management practices during the first two years that the U.S. Coast Guard mandated them to under the National Invasive Species Act of 1996 (NISA). The finding has prompted the Secretary of Transportation to recommend, in a report to Congress, that future noncompliance carry a penalty. The recommendations stemmed from the first biennial report of the National Ballast Information Clearinghouse, a collaborative effort of the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC) and the U.S. Coast Guard, managed and operated by SERC since 1997. The National Ballast Information Clearinghouse data and biennial report are now publicly accessible at http://invasions.si.edu/whats.htm.

Related Articles


Ships' ballast water, used to maintain stability, is a leading mechanism for the unwanted transfer of non-native marine- and freshwater species throughout the world. Decades of research indicate that ballast water contains a diverse and often dense community of organisms –- from fishes and crabs to bacteria and viruses. Upon discharge during normal ballast operations, hundreds to thousands of non-native species are introduced to U.S. coastal waters daily, and some of these organisms gain a foothold and spread. It is clear that many such biological invasions can alter dramatically the function of our ecosystems, cause significant economic losses and pose risks to human health.

Aquatic nonindigenous species first earned legislative attention in the United States in 1990, after zebra mussels from Eurasia clogged water supply pipes serving municipalities in the Great Lakes region. However, this was not an isolated event. Non-native species are established along every coast of the U.S., and scores to hundreds of non-native species are known to reside in individual bays and estuaries –- like Chesapeake Bay and San Francisco Bay –- which are focal points for global commerce and shipping. SERC scientists have shown that the number of documented invasions continues to increase in U.S. coastal waters. On a global scale, biological invasions are now considered the second greatest threat to the biological diversity, after habitat destruction.

Under the 1996 law, ships entering U.S. waters from outside the 200-mile-wide Exclusive Economic Zone are required to report ballast water management practices, informing a nationwide tracking system to measure the amount of ballast water discharged to each port and assess the management practices used to reduce the risk of species transfer. At present, shipmasters are asked to follow voluntary guidelines aimed at reducing the risk of introducing alien organisms into U.S. harbors. They are asked voluntarily either to exchange ballast water in the open ocean, retain ballast water from overseas coastal areas or use an alternative ballast water remediation process deemed effective by the U.S. Coast Guard in stemming the tide of non-native species invasions.

"It is notable that in California, where state law authorizes monetary and criminal penalties for non-compliance with federal ballast water reporting requirements, rates of reporting were much higher," said estuarine ecologist Gregory M. Ruiz, who directs the clearinghouse and leads the marine invasions research program at SERC. "In San Francisco, it was almost three times higher than the national average, at nearly 90 percent for the two-year period," he added.

Similar laws exist also in Washington and Oregon, accounting perhaps for the West Coast having the highest, regional rate of reporting at 67 percent of 15,311 arrivals. In contrast, the East Coast had only 29 percent of ships reporting. Regionally, the lowest reporting rate occurred on the Gulf Coast, at 17 percent of ships reporting. The clearinghouse report does not include the Great Lakes, which are regulated by the Nonindigenous Aquatic Nuisance Prevention and Control Act of 1990.

"The system is now in place to collect, analyze and disseminate key information about the delivery and management of ships' ballast water throughout the country, providing a critical tool to track changes in space and time and to inform management decisions at the local, state and federal levels. This is an important component in the national strategy to understand the operations of vessels and to monitor the implementation of management practices designed to reduce the risk of invasion over time," Ruiz noted.

Recommendations to Congress from the Secretary of Transportation are intended to implement this tracking system fully.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Smithsonian Institution. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Smithsonian Institution. "Vessel Reporting A Weak Link In National Strategy To Stem The Flow Of Alien Organisms To The U.S.." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 July 2002. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/07/020709055232.htm>.
Smithsonian Institution. (2002, July 9). Vessel Reporting A Weak Link In National Strategy To Stem The Flow Of Alien Organisms To The U.S.. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/07/020709055232.htm
Smithsonian Institution. "Vessel Reporting A Weak Link In National Strategy To Stem The Flow Of Alien Organisms To The U.S.." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/07/020709055232.htm (accessed November 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Baby Okapi Born at Houston Zoo

Raw: Baby Okapi Born at Houston Zoo

AP (Nov. 20, 2014) The Houston Zoo released video of a male baby okapi. Okapis, also known as the "forest giraffe", are native to the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Central Africa. Video is mute from source. (Nov. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Your Complicated Job Might Keep Your Brain Young

Your Complicated Job Might Keep Your Brain Young

Newsy (Nov. 20, 2014) Researchers at the University of Edinburgh found the more complex your job is, the sharper your cognitive skills will likely be as you age. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mysterious Glow Worms Found in the Amazon

Mysterious Glow Worms Found in the Amazon

Buzz60 (Nov. 20, 2014) Wildlife photographer Jeff Cremer teamed up with entomologist Aaron Pomerantz and others to investigate a predatory glow worm found in the Amazon. Patrick Jones (@Patrick_E_Jones) explains. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins