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PNS Daily Newscast - September 21, 2018 


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Keeping Zebra Mussels Out of Wisconsin Waters

The National Wildlife Federation says stricter rules are needed to keep more zebra mussels out of Wisconsin waterways.
The National Wildlife Federation says stricter rules are needed to keep more zebra mussels out of Wisconsin waterways.
July 12, 2013

MADISON, Wis. – Since the mid-1980s, when zebra mussels arrived in Wisconsin waters, they've been clogging up boat engines, harming the ecosystem and disrupting commerce.

Now, the private National Wildlife Federation is suing the federal Environmental Protection Agency, saying the rules for ballast water discharge for seagoing ships need to be stronger.

"We feel that not only is it a hardship on our economy, says Marc Smith, the NWF’s senior policy manager, “but it is also a hardship on the fish and wildlife that rely upon the Great Lakes because we know that we have a commercial and sport fishery in the Great Lakes that is upward and onward of $6 billion a year."

For years, the University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute has been researching ways to get rid of zebra mussels. And the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has undertaken a huge campaign to educate boaters about cleaning off their boats and trailers, to try to limit the spread of zebra mussels.

DNR wardens can issue boaters tickets for failure to remove weeds from boats and trailers and failure to drain bilge water, live wells and bait wells.

Recreational boating is only one aspect of the zebra mussel problem. Smith says the invaders are harmful to the environment and to commercial fishing.

"Invasive species like zebra mussels that were introduced from ballast water have caused the Great Lakes food web to collapse,” he explains, “and that zebra mussels will filter out plankton, that is the life blood for small fish that are low on the food chain that the salmon, lake trout rely upon."

Smith says the intent of the suit against the EPA is not to harm business.

"We're not about closing down commerce,” he insists. “We need commerce. The Great Lakes are a valuable asset not only to us and our quality of life, but our economy, and we need shipping to happen, but we just need to do it in a way that doesn't devastate the ecosystem at the same time."



Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI