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Report shows ships transport invasives without leaving Great Lakes

Flickr User Dennis Jarvis

A recent report from the Great Waters Research Collaborative shows that ships don’t have to leave the Great Lakes to contribute to the spread of invasive species.

It had been thought that invasive species were brought in to the Great Lakes and spread by ships that travel overseas. The new report shows that lakers, ships that remain in the Great Lakes, are just as guilty as seafaring ships.  

Jennifer Caddick is a spokesperson with the Alliance for the Great Lakes. She said invasives hitch rides in ballast water.

“Aquatic invasive species have cost the region billions of dollars over the years so it’s not only an environmental issue but it’s also an economic issue, and so that’s why making sure that we’re cleaning up these ships ballast tanks whether they’re lakers or ocean-going vessels is so critical.”

Caddick said invasives have been found in new locations around the Great Lakes near harbors, and lakers are believed to be responsible.

She said strong rules need to be in place to ensure ballast water is clean before more invasives are introduced or spread.