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Ballast Water and Aquatic Nuisance Species Introductions to the Great Lakes

Ballast Water and Aquatic Nuisance Species Introductions to the Great Lakes

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory on Jun 08, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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01/30/2014

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Over the last two centuries the Great Lakes have been invadedby aquatic nonindigenous species (ANS) moving via a broadarray of vectors, including transoceanic shipping. Ships arebelieved to be responsible for ANS additions starting in the1860’s through disposal of solid ballast. The opening of  the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1959 resulted in a substantialincrease in the importance of ballast water as a vector for theintroduction of nonindigenous species. Ballast water is used to supply stability on ships that have no load. It is loaded onbefore departure and often carries stowaways in the form of  tiny organisms. Ship discharge of ballast water is considered the most likely source for the majority of ANS additions in theGreat Lakes since 1959. Due to the invasion of zebra musselsin the late-1980s, mandatory ballast water managementregulations were established in 1993 for all ships entering  the Great Lakes with pumpable ballast water. Under theseregulations, ships are required to replace ballast water withsaltwater from the middle of the ocean in a process known asballast water exchange (BWE).
BACKGROUND
Propagule pressure, which is another way to say the number of introduced organisms capable of establishing a new population,helps to determine the success of ANS introductions. Therefore,one way to assess the effectiveness of ballast water exchange isto determine its effect on the delivery of propagules to the Great Lakes ecosystem. There are two categories for ships entering the Great Lakes fromthe ocean. One is those carrying pumpable ballast-on-board(BOB). The second is ships that are full of cargo and not carrying pumpable ballast (NOBOB, “NO Ballast On Board”). When shipstake in ballast water, they also take in organisms in the water,and often take in sediment and sediment-dwelling organismswith it. Even with complete deballasting, some residual ballast water and accumulated sediments remain in the tanks of most ships. Originally (1993-2006) ballast water exchange regulationsapplied only to BOB ships. NOBOBs were not regulated under BWErequirements because they did not contain pumpable ballast water.Recent studies indicate that much higher densities of organismsmay be associated with sediments than with water in ballast tanks. Depending on many things such as operational constraints,location, and attentiveness to ballast tank condition, accumulationof sediments and sediment-associated organisms can besignicant.
Ballast Water and Aquatic Nuisance SpeciesIntroductions to the Great Lakes
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NOAA, Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory
4840 S. State Rd.
Ann Arbor, MI 48108
734-741-2235
www.glerl.noaa.gov
Water overowing from a ballast tank deck hatchduring ballast water exchange at sea.Sediment accumulation inballast tank. Tunicate organismsin a ballast tank of a cargo vessel in thePacic Ocean.

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