|Invasive Species and Ships|
The Northeast-Midwest Institute (NEMWI) works to prevent aquatic invasive species (AIS) in the region through research into the Risk-Release relationship, as well as its Great Ships Initiative. The Risk-Release relationship asks the question “how clean is clean?” when it comes to ballast discharge. With little existing scientific information, the matter is subject to intense regional controversy and costly, conflicting regulatory responses. NEMWI’s project “Harmful Microbes in Ballast Water and the Great Lakes” investigated whether the tiniest of organisms merit concern, management, or monitoring.
In the wake of the Great Lakes outbreak of the fish pathogen Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia, there was concern the virus could spread via ships’ ballast water. NEMWI undertook research to address:
Further, the NEMWI undertook ground-breaking research to determine “how low to go” in ballast discharge standards to achieve sufficient sterility, i.e. the “Risk-Release” relationship. NEMWI tests the approach recommended in the National Research Council/National Academy of Sciences report Assessing the Relationship between Propagule Pressure and Invasion Risk in Ballast Water, testing AIS establishment with direct surveys of ship discharges and AIS establishment in harbors over time. NEMWI received significant support from the Great Lakes Protection Fund for both projects.
Recent Activities and Output (2011-12):
NRC/NAS Panel: The NEMWI participated in a study panel for the report titled Assessing the Relationship between Propagule Pressure and Invasion Risk in Ballast Water.
Risk-Release Experts Meeting: Global experts advised on the NEMWI project.
Briefing: The NEMWI presented on ballast water testing at the congressional briefing “Ballast Water and the Great Lakes.”