|For Immediate Release
Contact: Marc Gaden
|October 25, 2002
734-662-3209 x. 14
ANN ARBOR, MIóThe Great Lakes Fishery Commission today strongly agreed with government reports that concluded not enough is being done in Canada and the United States to prevent the introduction and spread of invasive species. The reports, which were issued concurrently this week by the Auditor General of Canada and the U.S. General Accounting Office, focused attention on the mounting invasive species problem and on the ways governments have responded. Among the findings of both reports were
The federal governments of Canada and the United States have not responded effectively to the invasive species threat;
Invasive species are a leading cause of biodiversity loss and economic loss, costing billions of dollars each year;
Measures put into place to prevent aquatic introductions (such as ballast water monitoring and ballast water exchange) have not prevented new introductions;
Canada and the U.S. have neither a binational approach to invasive species nor do they have a single agency in charge of managing the problem; and
Effective ballast water management techniques may require at least 10 years to develop and implement.
The Great Lakes Fishery Commission is a Canadian/U.S. institution on the Great Lakes charged with investigating fish stocks of common concern, managing the invasive sea lamprey, coordinating fisheries management, and making recommendations to government.
"The Canadian and U.S. reports clearly and resoundingly emphasize that invasive species present a very real and significant economic and environmental threat to the Great Lakes," said commission chair Dr. Bill Beamish. "The commission and the Great Lakes community as a whole have repeatedly asked the governments to take immediate action to stem the tide of new introductions. These reports add yet another voice to the need for immediate action. As a commission charged with protecting the Great Lakes, we hope these reports will be the catalyst to generate government action."
Beamish continued: "Unfortunately, these audits do not present much reason for optimism. While they conclude that governments are generally interested in addressing the invasive species problem, the reports also paint a picture of fragmented authority and inertia. Moreover, both reports conclude that meaningful management of ballast water-a primary vector for invasive species-is still a decade away. The problem is, with every passing day, comes the possibility of the introduction of yet another invasive species."
Dr. Roy Stein, the commission's vice-chair added: "We are disheartened by the reports' observation that no single government agency is charged with investigating the invasive species problem and coordinating action. This has created nearly two decades of inaction, where most people recognize the problem, but few are empowered to implement a meaningful solution. To that end, the Great Lakes Fishery Commission urges governments to grant the International Joint Commission the authority to harmonize Canadian and U.S. ballast water activities and to develop appropriate ballast water management regulations. As the reports note, someone needs to be in charge of a bi-national effort. The Great Lakes need a single agency to take charge and actively pursue solutions to the invasive species problem. We believe the IJC can actively pursue bi-national solutions to the invasive species problem."
Stein concluded: "Based on these and many other reports, the Great Lakes Fishery Commission strongly urges the governments of Canada and the United States to develop immediately ballast water standards that tolerate zero discharge of aquatic organisms, strongly urges the United States to reauthorize the National Invasive Species Act, and strongly urges governments to heighten research into technologies to prevent invasive species introductions."
The Canadian Auditor General's report is available online at www.oag-bvg.gc.ca/environment. The U.S. General Accounting Office report is available at www.gao.gov. The Great Lakes Fishery Commission's website is www.glfc.org.