New ballast-water regulations applauded

by Jeff Helsdon | September 9, 2021
a large cargo boat with ballasts

New ballast-water regs aim to stop spread of invasive species in Canada.

Sea-going vessels, which fill their ballast tanks in Europe and Asia and then discharge water in the Great Lakes, have been responsible for introducing numerous invasive species such as zebra mussels. Regulations were previously introduced, which require vessels to exchange ballast water at sea.

Water management systems needed

Now Canada has gone one step further. New regulations require the installation of a ballast water management system that treats the water to reduce the number of invasive species. Vessels entering and leaving Canada will be required to have a system installed by 2024, and by 2030 all Canadian vessels that do not travel internationally, other than to US Great Lake ports, will have to comply. Additionally, with the exception of vessels originating from American waters in the Great Lakes, vessels entering Canadian freshwater bodies must also continue to exchange their ballast water at sea.

The federal Ministry of Transport estimates the regulations will slow the spread of invasive species within Canadian lake ports by 82% by 2030. Between now and 2044, the regulations are expected to stop the introduction of 34 species, including five that could cause serious damage.

OFAH agrees

The move was applauded by the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH), which has a long history on Great Lakes issues, including preventing the introduction and spread of aquatic invasive species.

“Domestic vessels were exempt in previous ballast-water regulations, which posed economic and environmental risks due to the potential for local spread of aquatic invasive species,” said OFAH Invading Species Awareness Program Coordinator Sophie Monfette. “The regulations that have recently come into force go one step further than the highly successful ones that have been in place for international vessels and, in doing so, will reduce the risks posed to the Great Lakes as they address the spread of aquatic invasive species within Canadian waters.”

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