“Nearly a quarter-century has passed since an oceangoing ship from Europe docked somewhere in the Great Lakes and discharged ballast water carrying tiny but tenacious zebra mussel larvae from Europe.
“The filter-feeding mussels have since helped to upend the ecosystems of the Great Lakes, fouling beaches, promoting the growth of poisonous algae and decimating some native fish populations by eating the microscopic free-floating plant cells on which their food web depends.
“Yet it was not until last month that the Coast Guard issued a federal rule requiring oceangoing freighters entering American waters to install onboard treatment systems to filter and disinfect their ballast water. The regulation, which largely parallels a pending international standard and another planned by the Environmental Protection Agency, sets an upper limit on the concentration of organisms in the ballast water.
“Scientists have tracked at least 329 invaders in marine environments worldwide; ecosystems have been disrupted from the Great Lakes to San Francisco Bay, where the Asian clam is implicated in a collapse of fish stocks, to Lyttelton Harbor in New Zealand, where an invasive fanworm, a prodigious filter feeder, outcompetes local shellfish.
“The new standards from the Coast Guard, the E.P.A. and the International Maritime Organization are expected to spawn a booming global market in such technology, the firm says. Frost & Sullivan predicts that ballast-water management technologies and their corporate backers will compete for an estimated $35 billion in sales over the next decade as the rules take effect.”
Read More: nytimes.com