In Washington DC, a bill that would help protect the Great Lakes from invasive species has been revived by the Senate, and sent to the House for a vote.
The Vessel Incidental Discharge Act, or VIDA, would set a national precedent for controlling boat ballast water that enters the U.S.
The bill was revived when Senator Gary Peters of Michigan added an amendment that would require all ships that enter the Great Lakes through the St. Lawrence Seaway to dump their ballast water prior to entry.
Ballast water is considered to be one of the biggest doorways for aquatic invasive species to enter our waterways.
After 70 years of service, and earning the description “the Senior citizen of the Great Lakes fisheries research vessels”, the DNR’s R.V Chinook is being retired.
Research biologist at the DNR Dave Fielder spent years with the vessel. He said he’ll miss the old ship.
“Well I tend to think about the different people who have served on it, visited on it, over the years. Whole careers have been spent on this vessel. It can get pretty rough out there, it’s kinda notorious for creating seasickness, but it’s kinda like our second home.”
The new research vessel, the R.V Tanner, is expected to be constructed by April of 2016.
Fielder says the new ship is named after Dr. Howard Tanner who’s known as the, “Father of the Modern Pacific Salmon Program” .
Scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, say an invasive species is migrating to inland bodies of water in Michigan.
The Spiny Waterflea is usually found in the open water of the Great Lakes but now it can be found infesting local streams and ponds.
Steven Pothoven (Pot-hoven) is a fishery biologist at NOAA.
He says that even though the invasion can’t be stopped, it’s not the end of inland waterways or the Great Lakes.
“I think they reflect the ecosystems in the Great Lakes that are really disrupted from invasive species. They may not cause the collapse of something, but they disrupt things and they make that ecosystem less stable than it would be if they weren’t in there.”
Pothoven says waterfleas won’t outright destroy a habitat, but they make it more difficult for smaller fish to survive and thrive.
He says waterfleas throw a monkey wrench into food webs by devouring zooplankton which is the main food source for small fish.
Pothoven says the waterflea was initially introduced to the Great Lakes in the mid ‘80s by boat ballast dumping. By the late ‘80s the small crustacean could be found in every Great Lake.