State HB on ballast water treatment wrong

I was appalled that the sponsors of House Bill 5095 (ending ballast water treatment) are so insensitive to the plight of Michigan’s coastal communities they would rush this bill’s passage without listening to those directly affect. This bill, sponsored buy Sue Allor among others, would strip from the the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act the requirement that ocean-going vessels treat discharged ballast water to reduce risk of invasive species.

Fisheries of our coastal communities have been devastated and the economy of Michigan has paid a huge price for salt water shipping: zebra and quagga mussels, round gobies, sea lampreys, to name a just a few. The proponents argue the federal government should regulate ballast water. This is disingenuous: they must know the U.S. Senate is attempting to remove ballast water control from the oversight of EPA (Senate Bill 168).

This is not about our intra-lake carriers. There has been no proof a Great Lakes carrier has brought an invasive species into the Great Lakes, but here is plenty of evidence salt-water ships brought us zebra and quagga mussels that pulled the rug from under Lake Huron’s once-famed salmon and brown trout fisheries and now threaten those of Lake Michigan’s. The economic costs of ocean-going shipping on our Lakes have far exceeded the benefits.

Most ocean-going ships fly “flags of convenience” to avoid regulations of the owner’s country. These countries of registry are poorly equipped to enforce even minimal standards for labor, environmental protection, or safety. Why is our legislature encouraging these foreign-flagged ships, at the expense of our own and Canadian domestic shipping?

As the Great Lakes State we have always been looked to as leader in Great Lakes issues. If you agree, please urge Gov. Snyder to veto this bill.

Jim Johnson

Fisheries Biologist, retired