a rule promulgated by New York's Department of Environmental Conservation that sets what many in the maritime industry consider an impossibly high standard for the purity of the ballast water carried by ships. The goal of the regulation is to curtail the introduction of harmful non-native fish and other organisms that disrupt the ecological balance of the Great Lakes.
Interlake's ships stay in the Great Lakes, but enforcement of the regulation would prevent passage into and out of the Great Lakes by any ship that doesn't meet the standard, labor leaders, port directors and shippers say. Failure to meet the standard would prevent ships from entering New York waters; that includes locks that ocean- going vessels must transit on their way to and from the Great Lakes.
Considering this is the largest thoroughfare for introducing new and destructive species into the Great Lakes, this is a fantastic move.
Of course the shipping companies are having fits about it, and I take those fits seriously. Shipping on the Great Lakes and access to international shipping from harbors in Great Lakes states is a draw for many manufacturers and businesses in the area that's already hit by high unemployment and a shrinking manufacturing base, with a U6 unemployment level of over 20% in Michigan.
I'd hate to see the region's economic situation hurt even further from this type of law...though considering the amount we spend on battling invasive species (see the previous blog entry) from quagga and zebra mussels to sea lamprey, it may in the long run cost us more to allow these ships through than we get from economic activity.
I would like to see some Federal or state help for the shipping industries to comply with stricter regulations if in fact it turns out they really can't afford to comply. We gotta make 'em squirm first, though. Those that can afford to comply will get to be the dominant shipping companies in the region...and in the long run, we'll shut off the leading vector for invasive species.