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Statement by Commissioner Carl W. Bentzel on Petition 20-01 from the Lake Carrier Association (LCA)

Posted

I am pleased that the Federal Maritime Commission has voted unanimously to accept a petition filed by the Lake Carrier Association (LCA).  The petition alleges that ballast water regulations proposed by the government of Canada will discriminate against U.S.-flagged vessels.  The Commission’s action authorizes an investigation to gather information and to take public comment.

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

However, as a preliminary perspective, I am 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.

The proposed Canadian regulation appears to go further than provisions regulating ballast water discharges into Canadian waters and would require U.S.-flagged Laker vessels to install a ballast water management system (BWMS) to treat ballast water even if they only load, and do not discharge,  ballast water in Canadian waters. I understand that U.S.-flagged Laker carriers are willing to abide by Canadian regulations requiring a BWMS if they discharge their ballast water into Canadian waters. Seemingly, the Canadian regulatory proposal requiring vessels that only load ballast water to install a BWMS would have no impact on the introduction of non-native aquatic species into Canadian waters.  Additionally, the actions of potentially restricting the upload of ballast water if a vessel does not have a BWMS could impact the navigational stability and safety of U.S.-flagged vessels.

Finally, 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 U.S. 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.

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.