Navigation Links
Coasts' best protection from bioinvaders falling short
Date:11/4/2011

Invasive species have hitchhiked to the U.S. on cargo ships for centuries, but the method U.S. regulators most rely on to keep them out is not equally effective across coasts. Ecologists from the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center have found that ports on the East Coast and the Gulf of Mexico are significantly less protected than ports on the West Coast.

Invaders are frequently introduced across oceans and along coastlines through the ballast water in ship hulls, water that often includes plankton and larval stages of marine and estuarine species. Large vessels need this water for balance as they load and unload cargo. However, by dumping ballast water in their ports of entry, they accidentally bring in new species that can alter or damage the local ecosystem.

In 2004 policymakers thought they had found a solution: have cargo vessels exchange their ballast water in the open ocean, at least 200 nautical miles from land. This method, called "open-ocean exchange," flushes out or kills potential invaders by exchanging coastal water for water from the deep ocean. But some ships do not use the practice and many more cannot without veering drastically off course.

In perhaps the most comprehensive study to date, Whitman Miller and a team of scientists from SERC looked at all international ships entering the contiguous U.S. over three years. Published today in the journal BioScience, the study analyzed approximately 105,000 vessel reports from January 2005 to December 2007.

While most ships opted not to discharge their ballast water at all, a substantial number continued to dump unexchanged or improperly exchanged water into their ports of entry.

Not all coasts are affected equally. The Gulf of Mexico and the East Coast received much larger fractions of unexchanged ballast water than the West Coast. Roughly 5 percent of the ballast water discharged on the West Coast had not undergone open-ocean exchange. By contrast 21 percent of the discharged water in the Gulf and 23 percent on the East Coast went unexchanged.

Much of the problem comes down to simple geography. Depending on a ship's transit route, it may not have the time or space to conduct open-ocean exchange.

A mere 24 percent of the ballast water discharged by ships journeying to U.S. ports along coastal routes, from Central or South America, for example, underwent open-ocean exchange. In contrast 91 percent of ballast water discharge by transoceanic shipping was exchanged in the open ocean, where ships have more opportunities to manage their water properly.

Because so many of their incoming ships do not pass through the open ocean, ports in the Gulf and East Coast receive more potentially harmful water.

The vast discrepancies point to the need for another solution, ecologists say. If ships could treat their ballast water on board without having to journey to the open ocean, every coast would be safer.

"The Gulf of Mexico coast receives more overseas ballast water discharge than the East or West coasts, and most of this water is either unexchanged or exchanged inside coastal waters," Miller said. "Given the geographic constraints of shipping, and the complexity of the invasion process, it is clear that we need to move to onboard ballast water treatment technologies that will allow ships to operate anywhere in the world without fear of releasing harmful invasive species."


'/>"/>
Contact: Kristen Minogue
443-482-2325
Smithsonian
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. The Atlas of Coasts and Oceans
2. How healthy are Americas coasts?
3. How healthy are Americas coasts?
4. New studies find global warming will have significant economic impacts on Florida coasts
5. New study of Glovers Reef challenges whether corals will benefit from Marine Reserves protection
6. New study of Glovers Reef challenges whether corals will benefit from Marine Reserves protection
7. Melanins trick for maintaining radioprotection studied
8. Increased protection urgently needed for tunas
9. Africas sea turtles need passports for protection
10. Natural protection against radiation
11. Youku Upgrades Fingerprinting System for Tougher Copyright Protection Measures
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:4/15/2016)... April 15, 2016  A new partnership announced ... accurate underwriting decisions in a fraction of the ... priced and high-value life insurance policies to consumers ... With Force Diagnostics, rapid testing (A1C, Cotinine ... readings (blood pressure, weight, pulse, BMI, and activity ...
(Date:4/13/2016)... 13, 2016  IMPOWER physicians supporting Medicaid patients in ... new clinical standard in telehealth thanks to a new ... higi platform, IMPOWER patients can routinely track key health ... mass index, and, when they opt in, share them ... to a local retail location at no cost. By ...
(Date:3/29/2016)... March 29, 2016 LegacyXChange, Inc. ... "LEGX" and SelectaDNA/CSI Protect are pleased to announce our ... in a variety of writing instruments, ensuring athletes signatures ... created collectibles from athletes on LegacyXChange will be assured ... the DNA. Bill Bollander , CEO ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) is pleased to announce 24 new Young Investigator ... Members of the Class of 2016 were selected from a pool of 128 ... About the Class of 2016 PCF Young Investigators ... ... ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... 2016 , ... Supplyframe, the Industry Network for electronics hardware ... . Located in Pasadena, Calif., the Design Lab’s mission is to bring together ... built and brought to market. , The Design Lab is Supplyframe’s physical representation ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016 Apellis Pharmaceuticals, ... 1 clinical trials of its complement C3 inhibitor, ... and multiple ascending dose studies designed to assess ... of subcutaneous injection in healthy adult volunteers. ... either as a single dose (ranging from 45 ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... 23, 2016 On Wednesday, June 22, ... down 0.22%; the Dow Jones Industrial Average edged 0.27% lower ... 2,085.45, down 0.17%. Stock-Callers.com has initiated coverage on the following ... Therapeutics (NASDAQ: NKTR ), Aralez Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: ... BIND ). Learn more about these stocks by accessing ...
Breaking Biology Technology: