Thursday, June 25, 2009

Groups Outline Principles For A Sustainable St. Lawrence Seaway

Jun 25: To mark the 50th anniversary of the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway (June 26, 1959), over 50 public interest groups from across the region have issued a report and are outlining seven principles to guide an environmentally sustainable future for shipping on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River. Jennifer Nalbone, director of Navigation and Invasive Species at Great Lakes United and lead author of the report said, “The opening of the Seaway took a devastating toll on the health of the Great Lakes ecosystem. If the shipping industry wants to be truly sustainable it needs to rethink how it operates on the Great Lakes. These seven principles provide the goal posts by which to measure that future.”

The report, A Better Seaway: Seven Principles to Guide Sustainable Shipping on The Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River, outlines the principles to address a broad range of environmental impacts, from invasive species to ice-breaking, to air emissions. While international vessels have been a focal point for many of the environmental impacts associated with shipping on the Great Lakes, particularly invasive species, the principles also address domestic operations.

The seven principles to guide a better Seaway are: Ships must not introduce or spread aquatic invasive species; Climate change is a real threat, and proactive steps must be taken to meet this challenge head on; Unnecessary and costly system expansion proposals must be abandoned; Air emissions should be cleaned up for shipping to truly be the cleanest mode of transportation in regards to air pollution; Work towards the elimination of all pollutants into the Great Lakes; Minimize ice-breaking, especially in sensitive areas; and Citizen engagement and industry transparency should become the norm in Seaway governance.

The report indicates that the University of Notre Dame estimates that the species that gained access to the region through the Seaway cost citizens, businesses, and cities in the eight Great Lakes states alone at least $200 million per year in damage to the commercial and recreational fishery, wildlife watching and water infrastructure. While exact economic data does not exist for the Great Lakes region in Canada, similar damages can be expected.

Access a release from the groups (
click here). Access the Better Seaway website for links to the report, additional resources and information (click here). Access a list of the groups (click here).