My name is Sarah Bailey and I am a DFO research scientist. I am by training an invasion biologist, and I have been studying ship-mediated invasions in the Great Lakes for 12 years.
With me is Nick Mandrak, a research scientist at DFO. He is also the executive director of the DFO Centre of Expertise for Aquatic Risk Assessment for aquatic invasive species. Becky Cudmore is a senior science advisor on aquatic invasive species for DFO and the national manager for DFO's Centre of Expertise for Aquatic Risk Assessment.
We're going to split our 10 minutes and each take the opportunity to address the committee. I'll make some brief opening remarks, and then Nick and Becky will follow.
I lead DFO's ballast water research and monitoring program in the Great Lakes. We have a very collaborative program. We link with the Canadian Aquatic Invasive Species Network, Transport Canada, American researchers and regulators, as well as the shipping industry. I also participate in the ballast water working groups of the International Maritime Organization and the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea. We work to coordinate and improve ballast water management strategies globally.
I will focus my comments on the risks posed by ballast water, an evaluation of binational regulations that mitigate these risks, and remaining challenges.
When ships load ballast water at a port they load an entire aquatic community into their tanks. If that ballast water is not managed, a variety of species can be discharged at the next port of call, sometimes with very large population density. The discharge of unmanaged ballast water has been a very important vector of invasive species to the Great Lakes since the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway and is responsible for roughly 55% of invasions since 1959.
Starting in 1989, following the discovery of the Eurasian ruffe and the zebra mussel, Canada and the United States implemented a series of voluntary and then mandatory science-based ballast water regulations for vessels arriving to the Great Lakes. All vessels arriving to the Great Lakes from outside Canadian waters must now manage all ballast water, including residual water and sediments, by exchanging or rinsing their tanks with ocean salt water before discharge. A binational team inspects all of these vessels and orders corrective action, if necessary, to prevent unmanaged discharges into the Great Lakes.
I led a recent scientific evaluation of the efficacy of the current Great Lakes ballast water management program. Our comprehensive assessment used four lines of evidence and indicated that the risk of ship-mediated, non-indigenous species introductions has been markedly reduced. No new species attributed to ships' ballast water has been reported in the Great Lakes since 2006. Despite this, the risk of ship-mediated invasions in the Great Lakes has not been completely eliminated.
My team is currently conducting research to evaluate the risks posed by different vessels and different geographic routes, and we are evaluating new methods to manage ballast water. We are supporting Transport Canada in regulatory work following Canada's ratification of an international convention that will require vessels to treat ballast water using technologies such as filtration and chlorination.
We have also been exploring a combination approach, using ballast water exchange and treatment to provide an enhanced level of protection against ballast-mediated invasions for the Great Lakes.
My colleague Nick Mandrak will continue the opening remarks.