The Great Lakes Seaway Ballast Water Working Group (BWWG) has released its 2017 summary. It relates that 100% of oceangoing vessels bound for the St. Lawrence Seaway/Great Lakes from outside the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) underwent ballast water management examinations before entering the Seaway System.
A total of 8,350 ballast water tanks were assessed during 457 ocean vessel transits. Inspectors recorded that 99% of all ballast tanks were in compliance with pre-established salinity levels.
The BWWG is comprised of representatives from the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation, Transport Canada, and the Canadian St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation. This unique binational group’s mandate is to develop, enhance and coordinate binational inspection, compliance and enforcement efforts to reduce the introduction of aquatic invasive species via ballast water into the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System.
Since 2006, there has been no unmanaged ballast water entering the Great Lakes. In 2017, less than 1% of all international vessels were found to have ballast water on board that did not meet required salinity levels (30 parts per thousand). Those vessels are required to retain the ballast water and residuals on board, treat the ballast water in an environmentally sound and approved manner, or return to sea to conduct a ballast water exchange. Vessels unable to exchange their ballast water and required to retain this water on board also underwent a verification exam during their outbound transit prior to leaving the Seaway. The BWWG’s verification program indicated that there was no non-compliant ballast water discharged in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System.
This is the ninth consecutive year that BWWG agencies ensured the examination of 100% of ballast tanks entering the Great Lakes via the St. Lawrence Seaway. The BWWG anticipates that high vessel compliance rates will continue for the upcoming 2018 navigation season. Since 2006, no new ship-borne aquatic invasive species has been detected in the Great Lakes, the longest period of non-introduction on record.