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SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. —The Chippewa Ottawa Resource Authority (CORA) asks folks to contact their state legislators to speak against a bill now in the hands of the Senate that would relax rules for ballast water discharge of ocean going vessels, which would increase contamination and introduction of invasive species in the Great Lakes.

According to the Governor Rick Snyder’s deputy director for the House, HB 5905 quickly passed the House and moved through the Senate at a fast pace as well. While the Senate passed the bill, they have held on to it and have not sent it back to the House for concurrence. The legislature remains on break until Nov. 28, presenting a prime opportunity to make calls and send email messages to Senators and Representatives to stop the bill.

“The fishery economy of the CORA tribes has been severely damaged by ballast water introductions of invasive species like zebra and quagga mussels,” CORA Executive Director Jane A. TenEyck said in letters to senators Tom Casperson and Wayne Schmidt. “Therefore, since no federal or regional laws have been introduced that are as effective as the requirements in Michigan’s current ballast laws, CORA is requesting that the Senate’s Natural Resources, Environment and Great Lakes Committee reject these changes to Michigan’s ballast law in order to prevent new introductions from occurring.”

Casperson chairs the Natural Resources, Environment and Great Lakes Committee and Schmidt serves as chair of the Commerce Committee.

TenEyck added that the issue of aquatic invasive species is one of the most important environmental priorities for the CORA tribes because it jeopardizes the livelihoods of so many tribal members who depend on commercial fishing. Relaxing the ballast discharge rules would hurt Michigan’s fishing economy more than it would help the shipping industry. Further, she urged the legislators to reject the bill and retain current Michigan ballast water laws.

Information, including phone numbers and email addresses, for Michigan House of Representatives members can be found online at http://house.michigan.gov/MHRPublic/frmRepList.aspx and information for state senators is at http://www.senate.michigan.gov/senatorinfo_list.html.

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Photo by Ken Bosma / CC BY