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State Rep: "Show Some Muscle Against Mussels" and Other Invasives

February 12, 2007

The Great Lakes have a hitchhiking problem -- invasive species like zebra mussels stow away in ballast water on ships, and find their way into Wisconsin rivers and lakes. Assembly Rep. Louis Molepske of Stevens Point says the state needs to show some muscle against the mussels. He's introducing a law this week that would require ships to treat ballast water for invasive species before dumping it. He says the EPA and Congress should take the lead on the issue, but he's not holding his breath.

"We've been waiting for years for Congress to act. We are spending billions of state tax dollars and federal tax dollars to combat a invasive species epidemic, essentially caused by the shipping industry."

Shipping industry groups worry that state ballast laws will create a patchwork of regulations, and could drive shipping out of the Great Lakes. Molepske points to the damage caused by 164 different invasive species. A similar law came into effect in Michigan this year. Molepske notes that Wisconsin is losing more money because of invasive species than it gains from Great Lakes shipping.

"From Minoqua Lake in Oneida County to Lake Geneva in Walworth County, waterborne invasive species are causing havoc to a multi-billion dollar tourism, recreation, and commercial fishing industries. So many invasive species have been introduced into our Great Lakes, and the cost is now outweighing the benefit of the shipping industry itself."

The ballast water bill is AB 919.

Rob Ferrett/Jamie Folsom, Public News Service - WI