As bad as it is, VHS is only part of the problem Hand wants to address. Exotic species have been hitchhiking throughout the Great Lakes via ballast tanks since 1959, when the St. Lawrence Seaway opened. And, as global trade increases, the problem will only get worse.
"Ships unload their ballast water from all over the world, and with it all kinds of exotic, invasive species, from viruses and bacteria to the zebra mussel," said Hand.
It's unfair to point the finger only at ocean-going ships, says Hand, a devoted angler and boat owner himself. All boaters should sterilize their bilge, ballast and livewell water.
"Not only do we need to prevent the salties from bringing in new viruses, we also need the lake carriers from the lower Great Lakes to treat their ballast, because the VHS virus is already in Lakes Huron, Michigan and Erie, and we don't want it in Superior," he said. "We really need something for all ships, as well as pleasure boats."
"We all need to protect the resource," he said.
If tests show that his system is as safe and effective as he believes, Hand hopes to map a strategy to implement its use throughout the Great Lakes.
|Contact: Jennifer Donovan|
Michigan Technological University