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Statement by Commissioner Carl Bentzel on the FMC’s Notice of Investigation and Request for Comments Investigation into Conditions Created by Canadian Ballast Water Regulations in the U.S./Canada Great Lakes Trade, Docket No. 20-10; Petition No. P1-20 from the Lake Carrier Association (LCA)

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I am pleased that the Federal Maritime Commission has voted unanimously to move forward on soliciting comments on the Investigation into Conditions Created by Canadian Ballast Water Regulations in the U.S./Canada Great Lakes Trade, Docket No. 20-10; Petition No. P1-20 from the Lake Carrier Association (LCA).

I remain committed to considering all views, all information and comment during the investigatory phase of this action.

However, I am particularly looking forward to the FMC receiving comments on issues on vessel safety issues related to restrictions that eliminate the upload of ballast water. I am looking forward to hearing from the public on whether restrictions on the upload of ballast water could impact operational safety of US flagged vessels following cargo discharge at Canadian ports.

I remain interested in hearing the environmental need for regulating ballast water discharges from vessels operating solely within the confines of the Great Lakes trade. Great Lakes vessels, operating since navigation began on the Great Lakes, have uploaded and discharged ballast in both US and Canadian waters. From my perspective, it would seem that the Great Lakes ecosystem is relatively uniform and for the most part that aquatic species in both U.S. and Canadian waters would be native to the Great Lakes.

I continue to be concerned that the Canadian regulatory proposal implements requirements that were not envisioned as a primary focus of the IMO International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments. The IMO treaty is intended to address the introduction of non-native aquatic species into waters of signatory nations, such as Canada.

Finally, as I have stated in the past, the proposed Canadian regulation goes further than provisions regulating ballast water discharges into Canadian waters and would require U.S.-flagged vessels to treat ballast water to be uploaded and not discharged into Canadian waters. I understand that U.S.-flagged carriers are willing to abide by Canadian regulations prohibiting the discharge of their ballast into Canadian waters. Seemingly, the Canadian regulatory proposal to impose requirements on vessels that upload, but do not discharge, ballast water would have no impact on the introduction of non-native aquatic species into Canadian waters.

Carl W. Bentzel is a Commissioner with the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission. The thoughts and comments expressed here are his own and do not necessarily represent the position of the Commission.