The shipping industry has been blamed in recent years for introducing many of the invasive species that are ravaging what's left of the Great Lakes native fish populations, but the fight to stop the spread of the latest microscopic invader might just threaten the monstrous freighters themselves.It's a small, small world.
Viral hemorrhagic septicemia, known as VHS, was discovered in the Great Lakes basin just last year, and already it has been blamed for the deaths of thousands of fish in the eastern Great Lakes.
The virus, which bleeds its victims to death, doesn't pose a danger to humans. But the potential for it to spread into the nation's other waterways so spooked the federal Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, or APHIS, that it ordered some fast and drastic steps to contain it.
Three weeks ago, the agency issued an "emergency" order that blocks the live export of 37 fish species from any of the eight Great Lakes states, a potentially crippling blow to fish farmers at a time of year when they typically harvest and ship their stock. The order also threatened to snarl cooperative interstate fish stocking programs and live bait shipments that help sustain the Great Lakes' $4.5 billion fishing industry.
The federal order was blasted as overkill by the fish farming industry and the scientific community that works with it, and last week, the order was relaxed to allow some exports under a rigid set of new rules.
But now that the federal government has rung the fire bell to alert the region to the dangers of this particularly contagious virus, the state of Michigan apparently wants more.
It wants the shipping industry to shape up.
Specifically, the Michigan Natural Resources Commission wants the federal government to order an emergency ban on freighters filling their ballast water tanks in the virus-infected waters of Lakes Erie, Ontario and St. Clair, as well as the St. Lawrence River. The idea is to protect the virus-free Lakes Michigan, Huron and Superior
Query- how can you kill virus in the ballast tanks?