Ballast inspections aid fight against AIS in Great Lakes
Efforts to thwart any more aquatic invasive species entering the Great Lakes were bolstered last year when 100-percent of all vessels entering the system were examined. That’s according to the Great Lakes Seaway Ballast Water Working Group’s 2016 activities report, released recently by the U.S. Coast Guard.
The Great Lakes Seaway Ballast Water Working Group is a bi-national collection of representatives from the United States Coast Guard, the U.S. Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation, Transport Canada-Marine Safety & Security, and the Canadian St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation.
In the report, the Coast Guard noted that 466 so-named ship “transits” were conducted, resulting in the assessment of 8,488 ballast tanks. This figure included physically sampling 8,194 tanks and administratively reviewing the remainder.
By way of explanation, an administrative review means that the tank for some reason could not have its contents sampled or the tank was not being used for ballast at the time of the inspection. In that case, the ship’s records are examined and the ship’s officers are interviewed.
Vessels that do not exchange their ballast water or otherwise flush their ballast tanks are required to either retain that ballast water – and any residual material – on board; treat the ballast water in an environmentally sound and lawfully determined manner; or else return to the ocean in order to flush the tanks and exchange the contents with ocean/salt water, the Coast Guard says. And any vessel unable to see that its ballast water/residuals is exchanged and thus are required to retain them onboard must receive a verification exam during their outbound transit prior to exiting the St. Lawrence Seaway.
Since 2006, ballast water management requirements in the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence Seaway system have been the most stringent in the world, says a Coast Guard spokesman.
“The working group’s verification efforts indicated that there were no non-compliant ballast water discharges into the Great Lakes or Seaway system,” said Coast Guard Commander Christopher Tantillo, with the service’s Ninth District Headquarters in Cleveland. “The working group is actively engaged in providing an energetic response to calls for tougher ballast water regulations for ocean-going vessels transiting the Seaway and Great Lakes system.”
This is the seventh consecutive year that BWWG agencies ensured the examination of 100 percent of ballast tanks entering the Great Lakes via the St. Lawrence Seaway, and the group anticipates continued high ship compliance rates for the 2017 navigation season, Tantillo says.