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Coalition Calls For Great Lakes Shipping Moratorium

May 24, 2007

A coalition of conservation groups is calling for a moratorium on ocean-going ships in Lake Superior and the other Great Lakes until lawmakers stop the introduction of aquatic invasive species. Spokesman Jeff Skelding says the concern is the increasing number of invasive species, such as zebra mussels and round goby, coming into Minnesota and other states from ballast waters of ocean-going vessels.

“One new non-native species is discovered every 28 weeks. They cost Great Lakes citizens and businesses $5 billion a year in damages in control costs. They foul our beaches. They harm commercial and recreational fishing. They clog power plant and municipal water infrastructure, and they disrupt the food chain.”

Skelding notes that a moratorium on ocean-going ships would be a stop-gap measure until there's federal legislation to regulate the discharge of ballast water.

“We're not calling to shut down the seaway. We're not calling to shut down the ports. We appreciate that commerce is an important part of Minnesota's economy. But, we do believe that Congress needs to enact a federal solution to the problem of aquatic invasive species in the Great Lakes Basin.”

He reports that, so far, over 185 invasive species have been identified in the Great Lakes, introduced because of ballast water discharge.

The groups backing the moratorium are the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition, which includes more than 90 zoos, aquariums, museums and hunting, fishing and environmental organizations. More information is available online at

Jim Wishner/Chris Thomas, Public News Service - MN