Each year that the St. Lawrence Seaway opens, concerned individuals and organizations brace themselves to see what toll aquatic invasive species will have on the Great Lakes this year.
Great Lakes United and The Canadian Autoworkers Local 1520 say enough is enough. It is time for a moratorium on ocean-going vessel access to the Great Lakes until the Canadian and U.S. governments put in place regulatory solutions that will curb the influx of these devastating invaders.
During the moratorium international cargo bound for the Great Lakes region could be offloaded before reaching the lakes and moved via transportation options such as Lake-vessel, barge, rail or truck. The health of the Great Lakes should not be held hostage when viable transportation alternatives exist.
Since Seaway officials opened the Great Lakes to deep draft shipping and ocean-vessel access in 1959, 65 percent of the aquatic invasive species currently present in the Great Lakes were brought in by ocean-vessels. This includes invaders such as the spiny water flea, round goby, zebra mussel and quagga mussel.
The cost to the Great Lakes economy has been enormous - efforts against the zebra and quagga mussels alone are estimated to cost $500 million each year over the next five years. This is nothing to say of the environmental toll these invaders have had on the Great Lakes ecosystem, nor the communities whose livelihoods are dependent on Great Lakes.
It's time to put an end to the 'business as usual' approach to invasive species protection. Alternatives exist to ocean-vessel access: let's use them to protect our lakes.
The Economics of Salties on the Great Lakes
Researchers Dr. John Taylor and James Roach have investigated transportation scenarios that would both facilitate trade and address the problem of invasive species in the Great Lakes.
Phase I - This report investigated the transportation cost of stopping ocean-vessels from entering the Great Lakes. It would cost $55 million a year. Click here for a PowerPoint presentation summarizing the results.
Phase II - Updated data from Phase I, and found that a cessation of ocean-vessel access to the Great Lakes would create over 1,300 jobs in the United States and Canada and have little impact on air quality or highway congestion.