Canada will not require domestic shipowners operating on the Great Lakes to equip their ships with costly ballast treatment systems until effective technology exists, Canadian transport minister Lisa Raitt said on 21 May.
Canada will only require ballast treatment on the Great Lakes “once it is feasible to do so”, she told the Canada-US Maritime Gateway Conference in Ottawa. “We want a balance between preventing aquatic nuisance species from entering the lakes and keeping the St Lawrence Seaway-Great Lakes as an effective transportation system for international trade.”
She also attacked the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for ignoring the economic impact of its proposed rules that would require Canadian freighters to install ballast waste management systems, saying that none had been proved to be effective in the cold, fresh water of the Great Lakes. The EPA exempted US ships from the rules.
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Robert Lewis-Manning, the Canadian Shipowners Association’s president, welcomed the minister’s statement. “She understands the challenge we face really well,” he said in an interview. “We’ve been trying to find a pragmatic solution to the issue.”
Raitt said the EPA attitude was frustrating because when it came to the operations of aircraft, trains, and trucks that cross the Canada-US border, the American government always moved cautiously and only after extensive study of the economic impact of any rule changes.
“We’ve not been getting any co-operation from the EPA on this,” she said. “I have been surprised at the lack of consultation on this issue.” Unlike the EPA, the US Coast Guard has already granted the Canadian ships an exemption from installing ballast equipment until certified technology is developed.
Raitt said that when the International Maritime Organization finally reached a global ballast treatment agreement, Canada would ratify it but delay implementation until government officials and industry agreed there were workable systems for the Great Lakes. “Transport Canada is developing rules that will be fair, feasible, and protective,” she said.