In 2005, a federal judge ruled that ballast water from oceangoing ships is a pollutant and must be regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency, under the Clean Water Act. This was in response to the invasion by zebra mussels, tiny black-and-white striped bivalves that are related to clams and oysters.
The troublesome creatures are native to Asia, and began invading freshwater bodies of water in Europe in the 1700s, and spread until they are now found in great numbers in all European waters. Biologists say that they came to the Great Lakes in the ballast water of cargo ships, and spread from there as far south as Arkansas, and into New England Waters.
The mussels attach themselves to screens and water intake pipes of wells and water treatment plants, where they reproduce rapidly and in great numbers, clogging filters, disrupting water flow, and resulting in millions of dollars in damage every year.
The mussels also threaten aquatic plants and animals, causing alarm among biologists, and environmentalists, as well as commercial and sport fishermen. Zebra mussels are also believed to be the source of avian botulism, which has killed tens of thousands of birds in the Great Lakes.
States from California to Michigan have enacted strict laws about ballast water, requiring oceangoing vessels to prove that they will not discharge contaminated bilge or ballast water into waterways. One Wisconsin lawmaker declared "We will not sit back while our waters are destroyed."
Asian carp are another invasive aquatic species that have spread rapidly in the Mississippi River, after first being introduced to North American waters to help control aquatic planters. But nobody expected them to reproduce in the great numbers they have, causing concern among environmentalists, who fear the fish will compete with native species for food and living space.
The carp have created so much trouble that several states have sued the federal government to keep waterways closed to prevent their spread into the Great Lakes. Michigan stated in one lawsuit that the carp would adversely impact the state’s sport and recreational fishing industry, and could result in the loss of 4,000 jobs.
Okay, what does this say about our priorities. Apparently we care more about our freshwater fisheries than we do our cities and towns. What about those other invaders, the millions of illegal aliens that flood over our borders and wreak havoc on our economy? Why don’t we care as much about the welfare systems, schools, hospitals, and jails that are stressed beyond their capabilities dealing with that invasive species? What steps are we taking to stop them?
Actually, maybe our priorities are the same after all. We apparently are doing (or not doing) the same thing, at least in relation to the Asian carp. Because just like the illegal human invaders, President Obama and his administration have ignored the facts and repeatedly denied that the carp pose any threat, and in January, 2010, the Supreme Court rejected a request by Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin for an injunction to require the Army Corps of Engineers and Chicago’s Municipal Water Reclamation District to close the locks on the Chicago Area Waterway System canal to prevent the spread of Asian carp into Lake Michigan.
Hey, if we can’t stop human invaders from taking over our country, why should we even care about fish, right?
Tags: aquatic plants and animals, biologists, Clean Water Act, commercial fishermen, Environmental Protection Agency, environmentalists, federal judge, federal lawsuit, Great Lakes, human invaders, illegal aliens, invasive species, lawmaker, sport fishing