IJC Renews Call for IMO Convention Ratification to Combat Aquatic Invasive Species

Nijmegan, The Netherlands, Monday September 24, 2007, 11am

The Rt. Hon. Herb Gray, the Canadian Chair of the International Joint Commission of Canada and the United States in his remarks to the Opening Plenary Session of the 15th International Conference on Aquatic Invasive Species today recommended that participants call on their governments to move from discussion to more action to combat the threat of Aquatic Invasive Species including ratifying the 2004 IMO International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments.

Mr. Gray told the conference that "I suspect for many of you in attendance here today, the status quo is simply unacceptable and the time for more action by governments is now." He then reiterated the IJC's recommendation from the fall of 2004 that the governments of Canada and the United States move quickly to ratify the IMO Convention. He also called on governments to undertake other further measures to combat AIS and for the conference participants to communicate the results of their work to governments to encourage more action.

As of August 31st of this year only 10 countries with a total of 3.42% of the world's gross tonnage have actually ratified the convention. It can come into force only when a minimum of 30 countries accounting for at least 35% of the world's gross tonnage ratifies it. Canada, the United States and the European Union are not yet among those who have done so.

The IMO's International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments of 2004 is aimed at reducing the risks to the environment, human health, property and resources from the transfer of harmful aquatic organisms and pathogens carried in ships' ballast water and sediments. In particular there is a provision that allows signatory countries to adopt stricter standards than the convention requires.

There are now a least 185 invasive species in the Great Lakes. Some scientists have predicted we can expect on average about one new invader every 28 weeks in the Great Lakes. Since the 14th Conference, two new species the bloody-red shrimp and Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia known as VHS have both been confirmed in the Great Lakes. It is estimated that these invasive species have a negative impact in the Great Lakes in the magnitude of billions of dollars.

For further information, or the complete text of Mr. Gray's remarks please contact:

Greg McGillis

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