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Testimony:

Before the Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs, Committee on Government 
Reform, United States House of Representatives:

United States Government Accountability Office:

GAO:

For Release on Delivery Expected at 2 p.m. EDT:

September 9, 2005:

Invasive Species:

Progress and Challenges in Preventing Introduction into U.S. Waters Via 
the Ballast Water in Ships:

Statement of Robin M. Nazzaro, Director, Natural Resources and 
Environment:

GAO-05-1026T:

GAO Highlights:

Highlights of GAO-05-1026T, a testimony before the Subcommittee on 
Regulatory Affairs, Committee on Government Reform, United States House 
of Representatives: 

Why GAO Did This Study:

Numerous invasive species have been introduced into U.S. waters via 
ballast water discharged from ships and have caused serious economic 
and ecologic damage. GAO reported in 2002 that at least 160 nonnative 
aquatic species had become established in the Great Lakes since the 
1800s—one-third of which were introduced in the past 30 years by 
ballast water and other sources. The effects of such species are not 
trivial; the zebra mussel alone is estimated to have caused $750 
million to $1 billion in costs between 1989 and 2000. Species 
introductions via ballast water are not confined to the Great Lakes, 
however. The environment and economy of the Chesapeake Bay, San 
Francisco Bay, Puget Sound, and other U.S. waters have also been 
adversely affected.

The federal government has been taking steps since 1990 to implement 
programs to prevent the introduction of invasive species from ships’ 
ballast water discharges. However, species introductions are 
continuing. 

This testimony discusses the legislative and regulatory history of 
ballast water management and identifies some of the issues that pose 
challenges for the federal government’s program for preventing the 
introduction of invasive species via ships’ ballast water. 

What GAO Found:

Congress recognized ballast water as a serious problem in 1990 with 
passage of the Nonindigenous Aquatic Nuisance Prevention and Control 
Act, legislation intended to help reduce the number of species 
introductions in the Great Lakes. A reauthorization of this law in 
1996, the National Invasive Species Act, elevated ballast water 
management to a national level. As directed by the legislation, the 
federal government has promulgated several regulations requiring 
certain ships to take steps, such as exchanging their ballast water in 
the open ocean to flush it of potentially harmful organisms, to reduce 
the likelihood of species invasions via ballast water. Initially these 
regulations applied only to certain ships entering the Great Lakes; now 
they apply to certain ships entering all U.S. ports. In addition to 
these domestic developments, the United Nation’s International Maritime 
Organization has recently adopted a convention on ballast water 
management that could affect the global fleet. 

Since 1998, Coast Guard data show that compliance with existing ballast 
water exchange requirements has generally been high. However, key 
agencies and stakeholders recognize that the current ballast water 
exchange program is not a viable long-term approach to minimizing the 
risks posed by ballast water discharges. The primary reasons for this 
are that:

* many ships are exempt from current ballast water exchange 
requirements,
* the Coast Guard has not established alternate discharge zones that 
could be used by ships unable to conduct ballast water exchange for 
various reasons, and 
* ballast water exchange is not always effective at removing or killing 
potentially invasive species. 

Developers are pursuing technologies to provide more reliable 
alternatives to ballast water exchange, some of which show promise. 
However, development of such technologies and their eventual use to 
meet ballast water regulatory requirements face many challenges 
including the daunting technological task of developing large scale 
water treatment systems that ships can accommodate, and the lack of a 
federal discharge standard that would provide a target for developers 
to aim for in terms of treatment efficiency. As a result, ballast water 
exchange is still the only approved method for treating ballast water 
despite the concerns with this method’s effectiveness. Consequently, 
U.S. waters remain vulnerable to the introduction of invasive species 
via ships’ ballast water. State governments and others have expressed 
frustration over the seemingly slow progress the federal government has 
made on more effectively protecting U.S. waters from future species 
invasions via ballast water. As a result, several states have passed 
legislation that authorizes procedures for managing ballast water that 
are stricter than federal regulations. 

www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-05-1026T.

To view the full product, including the scope and methodology, click on 
the link above. For more information, contact Robin Nazzaro, (202) 512-
3841 or nazzaror@gao.gov.

[End of section] 

Madam Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee:

I am pleased to be here today to discuss actions to address the 
introduction of harmful invasive species via the ballast water in 
ships. Numerous harmful species have been introduced into U.S. waters 
via ballast water and have caused serious economic and ecologic damage. 
As you know, many of these species are now permanent residents in U.S. 
ecosystems and have significantly altered the structure of these 
systems, or promise to do so in the future. We reported in 2002 that at 
least 160 nonnative aquatic species had become established in the Great 
Lakes since the 1800s, more than one-third of which had been introduced 
in the prior 30 years. Ballast water is considered a major, although 
not the only, source of those introductions. [Footnote 1] This problem 
is not confined to the Great Lakes, however. The environment and 
economy of the Chesapeake Bay, San Francisco Bay, Puget Sound, and 
other coastal areas have also been affected by species transported in 
ballast water. The effects are not trivial; the zebra mussel alone is 
estimated to have caused $750 million to $1 billion in costs between 
1989 and 2000.[Footnote 2]

Today, I am going to provide some information on the legislative and 
regulatory history of ballast water management and discuss some issues 
that pose challenges for the federal government's program for 
preventing the introduction of invasive species into U.S. waters from 
ships' ballast water discharges, including an update on concerns that 
we identified in our 2002 report.

To update our work from 2002, we examined relevant statutes, 
regulations, and agency policies and documents. We also gathered recent 
data on compliance with current regulations. In addition, we 
interviewed agency officials and representatives of the shipping 
industry, technology developers, state agencies, environmental 
organizations, and academic researchers. We conducted our work from 
March through August 2005 in accordance with generally accepted 
government auditing standards.

Summary:

In summary, ballast water as a potential source of invasive species has 
been a legislative concern since 1990, first with passage of the 
Nonindigenous Aquatic Nuisance Prevention and Control Act, and again 
with an amendment in 1996 that expanded management of the problem. The 
Coast Guard has promulgated several guidelines and regulations since 
1991 concerning certain ballast water management activities. Initially 
these activities were only required of certain ships traveling into the 
Great Lakes and the Hudson River. Now, such activities are required of 
certain ships entering all U.S. ports. Also during this period, the 
international shipping community--via the International Maritime 
Organization--has been working on reaching agreement on ballast water 
management standards to apply to all shipping worldwide. The 
organization recently adopted a convention on this issue, although the 
convention has not been ratified by enough countries for it to enter 
into force.

We reported in 2002 that despite such steps--and generally high 
compliance rates with existing ballast water management regulations-- 
U.S. waters were still vulnerable to species invasions. In particular, 
we reported that some ships were not required to conduct ballast water 
exchange and that exchange was not necessarily effective at removing 
potentially invasive species from ships' ballast water. At the time, 
key agencies and stakeholders recognized that ballast water exchange 
was not a viable long-term approach to minimizing the risks posed by 
ballast water discharges. This sentiment continues today.

A key element of an improved management program for preventing species 
invasions is the development of a discharge standard for ballast water. 
When we reported in 2002, the Coast Guard was working on a discharge 
standard that would set a limit on the amount of potentially harmful 
organisms that could be discharged by ships into U.S. waters. In 
addition, developers were researching technologies that could be used 
to more effectively "clean" ballast water discharges than ballast water 
exchange. However, at the time, it was not clear what type of 
technological approach would prove successful at treating ballast 
water. While progress has been made on both of these issues since our 
report, the bottom line remains the same. Specifically, the Coast Guard 
has yet to issue a discharge standard and there are no technologies 
that have been approved for treating ballast water. Without such a 
standard or technology, ballast water exchange is still the only 
available treatment method for reducing the amount of potentially 
invasive species in ships' ballast water. Thus, U.S. waters remain 
vulnerable to invasive species carried in ballast water. In the absence 
of a stronger federal program for protecting U.S. waters against 
species invasions, several states including Michigan, have passed 
legislation addressing various aspects of the problem.

Background:

Species of plants, animals, and microscopic organisms are transported 
from their native environments around the world to new locations in 
many different ways, both intentionally and unintentionally. When they 
arrive in a new location, most of these species do not survive because 
environmental conditions are not favorable. However, some of the newly 
arrived species do survive and, unfortunately, a portion of these 
flourish to the point that they begin to dominate native species and 
are thus labeled as "invasive." These invasive, nonnative species can 
seriously damage ecosystems, businesses, and recreation.

Ballast water is one of many pathways by which nonnative and invasive 
species have arrived in the United States. Ships are designed to sail 
safely with their hulls submerged to a certain depth in the water. If a 
ship is not filled to capacity with cargo, it needs to fill its ballast 
tanks with water to maintain proper depth and balance during its 
travels. As a ship takes on cargo at ports of call, it must then 
discharge some of its ballast water to compensate for the weight of the 
cargo. When ships are fully loaded with cargo, their ballast tanks may 
be pumped down to the point where only residual water (also referred to 
as non-pumpable ballast water) is left. Ship masters may also 
manipulate the amount of water in their ballast tanks to account for 
different sea conditions. Different classes of ships have different 
ballast capacities, ranging from tens of thousands to millions of 
gallons of water.

Ships generally fill and discharge their ballast tanks when they are in 
port, and the water and associated sediment they take in is likely to 
contain living organisms or their eggs. Because the ballast water may 
be fresh, brackish, or salty depending on where it is obtained, the 
organisms in the water will also vary accordingly. Worldwide, ships 
discharge an estimated 3 billion to 5 billion metric tons of ballast 
water each year, and it is estimated that several thousand different 
species may be transported globally in ballast tanks on any given day. 
Well-known examples of invasive species brought to the United States in 
ballast tanks include the zebra mussel, round goby, Japanese shore 
crab, Asian clam, and Black Sea jellyfish. Collectively, these and 
other aquatic species transported in ballast water have caused billions 
of dollars in damage to our economy and unmeasured damage to the 
environment. For example, we reported in 2002 that the Great Lakes 
commercial and recreational fishing industry--which is worth about $4.5 
billion annually--was being damaged or threatened by the sea lamprey, 
round goby, Eurasian ruffe, and two invertebrates from eastern Europe, 
just to name a few.

While the Great Lakes feature prominently in today's hearing, many 
other waters around the United States have also been invaded by harmful 
species. Notably, invasive species are found in virtually all of our 
coastal bays and estuaries--resources that are typically enormously 
productive and support multibillion dollar commercial fisheries and 
recreation industries. Given the pace and expansion of global trade, 
the movement of additional invasive species to these and other 
ecosystems can only be expected to continue.

History of Ballast Water Management:

The federal government has been taking steps to address the 
introduction of potentially invasive species via the ballast water in 
ships for well over a decade. Congress recognized ballast water as a 
serious problem in 1990 with the passage of the Nonindigenous Aquatic 
Nuisance Prevention and Control Act, legislation intended to help 
reduce the number of species introduced into U.S. waters, focusing on 
the Great Lakes. Congress reauthorized appropriations for and amended 
that law in 1996, making it more national in scope. In 1999, the 
President issued an executive order to better address invasive species 
in general, including those transported in ballast water. In addition 
to these domestic developments, members of the United Nation's 
International Maritime Organization have adopted a convention on 
ballast water management that, if ratified by a sufficient number of 
countries, could affect the global fleet.

Nonindigenous Aquatic Nuisance Prevention and Control Act of 1990:

Ballast water as a conduit for invasive species was first legislatively 
recognized in 1990 with the passage of the Nonindigenous Aquatic 
Nuisance Prevention and Control Act (NANPCA).[Footnote 3] This law was 
a response to the introduction of the zebra mussel in the Great Lakes 
and findings that the discharge of ballast water results in 
unintentional introductions of nonindigenous species. The zebra mussel 
reproduces rapidly, and soon after its introduction clogged municipal 
and industrial water pipes, out-competed native mussels for food and 
habitat, and cost millions of dollars in economic losses and remedial 
actions.

Specifically, NANPCA called for regulations to prevent the introduction 
and spread of aquatic invasive species into the Great Lakes through the 
ballast water of ships.[Footnote 4] Among other things, it specifically 
called for the regulations to require ships carrying ballast water and 
entering a Great Lakes port after operating beyond the Exclusive 
Economic Zone (EEZ)--a zone generally extending 200 nautical miles from 
a country's shores--to take one of the following actions:

* Carry out what is known as ballast water exchange beyond the EEZ 
before entering a Great Lakes port;

* Exchange ballast water in other waters where the exchange does not 
threaten introduction of aquatic invasive species to the Great Lakes or 
other U.S. waters; or:

* Use an environmentally sound alternative method of removing 
potentially invasive organisms if the Secretary determines that such 
method is as effective as ballast water exchange in preventing and 
controlling aquatic invasive species infestations.

Exchanging ballast water in the ocean serves two purposes--to 
physically flush aquatic organisms from ships' tanks and to kill 
remaining organisms that require fresh or brackish water with highly 
saline ocean water.

After first issuing guidelines that became effective in March 1991, the 
Coast Guard replaced them with ballast water management regulations in 
April 1993 for ships carrying ballast water and entering the Great 
Lakes from outside of the EEZ.[Footnote 5] In 1992, Congress amended 
NANPCA and called for the promulgation of regulations for ships 
entering the Hudson River north of the George Washington Bridge; in 
December 1994, the Coast Guard extended its regulations to these 
ships.[Footnote 6] The regulations required ships with pumpable ballast 
water to:

* exchange ballast water beyond the EEZ at a minimum depth of 2,000 
meters before entering the Great Lakes or Hudson River;[Footnote 7]

* utilize another environmentally sound ballast water management method 
approved by the Coast Guard; or:

* retain the ballast water on board.

The Coast Guard did not approve any alternative method and, therefore, 
ships that did not exchange their ballast water beyond the EEZ were 
required to retain it on board. The Coast Guard also required these 
ships to submit reports attesting to, among other things, their ballast 
water management actions.

NANPCA also established the Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force 
(ANSTF), consisting of representatives from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 
the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Coast Guard, the Army 
Corps of Engineers, and other agencies deemed appropriate, as well as 
ex-officio members from the Great Lakes Commission and other nonfederal 
groups or agencies.[Footnote 8] NANPCA required the task force and the 
Secretary to cooperate in conducting a number of studies within 18 
months of enactment of the act on such issues as:

* The environmental effects of ballast water exchange on native species 
in U.S. waters;

* Alternate areas, if any, where ballast water exchange does not pose a 
threat of infestation or spread of aquatic invasive species in the 
Great Lakes and other U.S. waters;

* The need for controls on ships entering U.S. waters other than the 
Great Lakes to minimize the risk of unintentional introduction and 
dispersal of aquatic invasive species in those waters; and,

* Whether aquatic invasive species threaten the ecological 
characteristics and economic uses of U.S. waters other than the Great 
Lakes.

National Invasive Species Act of 1996:

Recognizing that many water bodies around the country in addition to 
the Great Lakes had been invaded by harmful, nonindigenous aquatic 
species, Congress reauthorized appropriations for and amended NANPCA 
with the passage of the National Invasive Species Act of 1996 
(NISA).[Footnote 9] NISA expanded upon NANCPA and called for voluntary 
national guidelines for ships equipped with ballast water tanks that 
operate in waters of the United States. NISA required the voluntary 
guidelines to direct ships to manage ballast water in a manner similar 
to the mandatory requirements for ships sailing to the Great Lakes by 
conducting ballast water exchange beyond the EEZ, exchanging their 
ballast water in an alternative discharge zone recommended by the 
ANSTF, or using an alternative treatment method approved by the 
Secretary. The law also required that the guidelines direct ships to 
carry out other management practices that were deemed necessary to 
reduce the probability of transferring species from ship operations 
other than ballast discharge and from ballasting practices of ships 
that enter U.S. waters with no ballast water on board. In addition, the 
law required that the guidelines provide that ships keep records and 
submit them to the Secretary to enable the Secretary to determine 
compliance with the guidelines.

The Coast Guard issued an interim rule in May 1999 and promulgated a 
final rule in November 2001 setting forth national voluntary guidelines 
under NISA.[Footnote 10] The guidelines encouraged ships carrying 
ballast water taken on in areas less than 200 nautical miles from any 
shore or in waters less than 2,000 meters deep to employ at least one 
of the following ballast water management practices: exchange their 
ballast water outside of the EEZ in waters at least 2,000 meters deep 
before entering U.S. waters, retain it on board, use an approved 
alternative ballast water management method, discharge the ballast 
water to an approved reception facility, or under extraordinary 
conditions conduct an exchange in an area agreed to by the Captain of 
the Port.[Footnote 11] The voluntary guidelines also encouraged all 
ships equipped with ballast water tanks and operating in U.S. waters to 
take various precautions to minimize the uptake and release of harmful 
aquatic organisms, pathogens and sediments. Such precautions may 
include regularly cleaning ballast tanks to remove sediment and 
minimizing or avoiding the uptake of ballast water in areas known to 
have infestations of harmful organisms and pathogens such as toxic 
algal blooms. In issuing the voluntary guidelines, the Coast Guard said 
that it was considering the results of a study on alternate discharge 
exchange zones but had not decided whether to allow ballast water 
exchanges in any of the possible locations the task force identified.

NISA also required a report to Congress on, among other things, 
compliance with the voluntary ballast water exchange and reporting 
guidelines no later than 3 years after their issuance. In addition, 
NISA required that the guidelines be revised, or additional regulations 
promulgated, no later than 3 years after the issuance of the guidelines 
and at least every 3 years thereafter, as necessary. Importantly, NISA 
required the promulgation of regulations making the guidelines 
mandatory if the Secretary determined that reporting or the rate of 
ship compliance was not adequate. As required by NISA, the Coast Guard 
issued its report to Congress in June 2002, but was not able to 
evaluate compliance with the voluntary guidelines because the rate of 
reporting was so poor. (From July 1, 1999, to June 30, 2001, less than 
one-third of all vessels required to report ballast water management 
information met the requirement.) Accordingly, as authorized by NISA, 
the Coast Guard published a proposed rule for a national mandatory 
program for ballast water management for all ships operating in U.S. 
waters in July 2003 and a final rule in July 2004.[Footnote 12] In 
addition, the Coast Guard promulgated another rule, effective August 
13, 2004, establishing penalties for, among other things, ship owners 
who do not file the required reports on their ballast water 
operations.[Footnote 13]

Finally, a key provision in NISA recognized the need to stimulate 
development of ballast water treatment technologies. Specifically, NISA 
called for the establishment of a grant program to provide funds to 
nonfederal entities to develop, test, and demonstrate ballast water 
treatment technologies. The Secretary of the Interior was authorized to 
enter into cooperative agreements with other federal agencies and 
nonfederal entities to conduct the program. NOAA and the U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service created the Ballast Water Technology Demonstration 
Program that provides grants to entities pursuing technologies that 
could be used to treat ballast water.

National Invasive Species Council:

Addressing concerns with the introduction of potentially harmful 
organisms via ballast water also falls under the purview of the 
National Invasive Species Council. The council was created in 1999 
under Executive Order 13112, which broadly addressed all types of 
invasive species. The council consists of the heads of the principal 
departments and agencies with invasive species responsibilities. The 
order directed the council to develop a plan for managing invasive 
species across agencies and to do so through a public process in 
consultation with federal agencies and stakeholders.

The council issued a national invasive species management plan in 
January 2001 containing 57 primary action items calling for about 168 
separate actions to be taken by a variety of federal agencies. Two 
actions in the plan relate to ballast water. First, because ballast 
water exchange was recognized as only an interim measure to address 
nonnative species introductions via ballast water, the plan called for 
NOAA, the Coast Guard, Interior, and EPA to sponsor research to develop 
new technologies for ballast water management by July 2001. Second, the 
plan called for the Coast Guard to issue standards for approving the 
use of ballast water management technologies as alternative ballast 
water management methods by January 2002. NANPCA and NISA require that, 
in order for an alternative ballast water management method to be used, 
the Secretary must first approve the method as being "at least as 
effective as ballast water exchange in preventing and controlling 
infestations of aquatic nuisance species," however, standards for 
approving alternative measures had yet to be developed.

The effect of the National Invasive Species Council and the national 
management plan on efforts to address species introductions via ballast 
water appears to be minimal. While research on technologies has been 
supported by the Ballast Water Technology Demonstration Program, which 
is managed by NOAA and the Fish and Wildlife Service, this program 
began in 1998 in response to NISA--before the management plan was 
written or before the council was even created. Little action has been 
taken on developing standards for approving ballast water treatment 
technologies even though its completion date was January 2002.

The council has focused on ballast water in its "cross-cut budget" for 
invasive species that it began in 2002 (for the fiscal year 2004 
budget), although its influence on ballast water management also 
appears limited. The cross-cut budget effort is intended to encourage 
agencies to, among other things, develop shared goals and strategies, 
and to promote cooperation and coordination on invasive species issues. 
As a part of the cross-cut budget, agencies have developed three 
performance measures for ballast water management. For fiscal year 
2005, agencies were to (1) sponsor eight ballast water technology 
projects, (2) develop and implement a standardized program to test and 
certify the performance capabilities of ballast water treatment 
systems, and (3) conduct a pilot scale verification trial of a full- 
scale treatment system to validate the standardized program. However, 
these measures call for agencies to take certain actions as opposed to 
achieving some desired outcome. This is similar to what we observed in 
our 2002 report about the actions in the national management plan. In 
addition, we note that the Coast Guard is not included in the cross-cut 
budget for ballast water despite being the primary regulatory agency 
for managing this issue.

International Maritime Organization Convention on Ballast Water:

While Congress, the Coast Guard, and other federal agencies have sought 
to reduce the threats posed by ballast water through domestic 
regulation, the United Nation's International Maritime Organization 
(IMO) has worked for over 10 years toward a global solution to the 
problem.[Footnote 14] In February 2004, IMO member countries adopted 
the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' 
Ballast Water and Sediments.[Footnote 15] The convention calls for 
ballast water exchange as an interim measure. This would be followed by 
the imposition of a treatment standard that would place limits on the 
number of organisms that ships could discharge in their ballast. To 
enter into force, the convention must be ratified by at least 30 
countries constituting at least 35 percent of the gross tonnage of the 
world's merchant shipping. As of August 2005, eight countries had 
signed the convention but only one--the Maldives--had ratified 
it.[Footnote 16]

The convention's ballast water performance standard would require ships 
conducting ballast water management to discharge less than 10 viable 
organisms greater than or equal to 50 microns in size per cubic meter 
of water and less than 10 viable organisms less than 50 but greater 
than 10 microns in size per milliliter of water.[Footnote 17] In 
addition, the ballast water performance standard would set limits on 
the discharge of several disease causing pathogens including cholera 
and E. coli. The dates by which ships would need to meet the ballast 
water performance standard, if the convention enters into force, would 
depend upon when the ship was built and what its ballast water capacity 
is. For example, the ships first required to meet the standard would be 
those built in 2009 or later with a ballast capacity of less than 5,000 
cubic meters. Ships built before 2009 with a ballast capacity between 
1,500 cubic meters and 5,000 cubic meters would have to meet the 
standard by 2014. Regardless of age or size, all ships subject to the 
convention would need to meet the standard by 2016.

Major Issues with Current Ballast Water Management Program:

The federal government has continued to take steps to strengthen 
controls over ballast water as a conduit for potentially harmful 
organisms. Since 1998, Coast Guard data show that compliance with 
conducting ballast water exchange, when required, has generally been 
high. However, key agencies and stakeholders recognize that the 
recently adopted mandatory national program for ballast water exchange 
is not a viable long-term approach to minimizing the risks posed by 
ballast water discharges. Major limitations with this approach include 
the fact that despite relatively high compliance rates with the 
regulations, U.S. waters remain vulnerable to species invasions because 
many ships are still not required to conduct ballast water exchange. In 
addition, the ANSTF has not recommended alternate areas for ballast 
water exchange and thus, the Coast Guard has not established alternate 
discharge zones that could be used by ships. And lastly, ballast water 
exchange is not always effective at removing or killing potentially 
harmful species.

Compliance with Existing Ballast Water Exchange Is Generally High:

With the Coast Guard's mandatory ballast water management regulation 
for ships traveling into U.S. waters after operating beyond the EEZ and 
carrying ballast water taken on less than 200 nautical miles from 
shore--effective September 2004--more ships are generally required to 
conduct ballast water exchange or retain their ballast water than 
before. We noted in 2002 that compliance with ballast water exchange 
requirements for ships entering the Great Lakes was high, and the Coast 
Guard maintains that it remains high. According to the Coast Guard, 
from 1998 through 2004, 93 percent of the ships entering the Great 
Lakes with pumpable ballast water were in compliance with the exchange 
requirement. More recently, data show that about 70 percent of those 
arriving from outside the EEZ to ports other than the Great Lakes 
conducted an exchange. Most notably, reporting on ballast water 
management activities has increased dramatically. According to the 
Coast Guard, reporting increased from approximately 800 reports per 
month in January 2004 to over 8,000 per month since September 2004; 
this reflects reporting from about 75 percent of ships arriving from 
outside the EEZ. The Coast Guard attributes the increase in reporting 
to an effort beginning in 2004 to encourage ship masters to file 
reports electronically and to the new regulations that allow the Coast 
Guard to levy penalties for non-reporting. According to data provided 
by the Coast Guard, nearly five percent of ships arriving at U.S. ports 
between January 2005 and July 2005 were inspected for compliance with 
ballast water regulations. On the basis of its inspections, the Coast 
Guard reports a 96.5 percent compliance rate with the mandatory ballast 
water management regulations. During the first two quarters of 2005, 
inspections revealed 124 deficiencies that range from problems with 
ballast water management reporting to illegal discharge of ballast 
water in U.S. waters. As a result of these findings, Coast Guard took 
nine enforcement actions.

Many Ships with Potentially Harmful Organisms in Their Ballast Water 
Are Not Required to Conduct Ballast Water Exchange or Retain Their 
Ballast Water:

Although the Coast Guard believes that compliance with ballast water 
management regulations is high, U.S. waters may still not be adequately 
protected because many ships are not required to conduct ballast water 
exchange even though they may discharge ballast water in U.S. waters.

NOBOBs. Ships with no ballast water in their tanks (referred to as "no 
ballast on board" ships or NOBOBs) are not required to conduct ballast 
water exchange or retain their ballast water.[Footnote 18] While the 
term "NOBOB" indicates that a ship has no ballast on board, these ships 
may, in fact, still be carrying thousands of gallons of residual 
ballast water and tons of sediment that cannot be easily pumped out 
because of the design of their tanks and pumps. This water and sediment 
could harbor potentially invasive organisms from previous ports of call 
that could be discharged to U.S. waters during subsequent ballast 
discharges. NOBOBs are a particular concern in the Great Lakes, where 
greater than 80 percent of ships entering from outside the EEZ fall 
into this category. While still a concern for other U.S. ports, it 
appears that a significantly smaller portion (about 20 percent) of 
ships arriving at U.S. ports other than the Great Lakes from beyond the 
EEZ claimed NOBOB status. Officials responsible for gathering and 
managing data on ship arrivals estimate that about 5 percent of those 
NOBOB ships take on ballast water and discharge it in U.S. waters.

When the Coast Guard conducted an environmental assessment of its new 
national mandatory ballast water exchange regulations in 2003, it did 
not review the potential threat that NOBOB ships pose to future species 
invasions, although it received comments raising concerns about this 
omission. In response to comments on its 2004 rule, the agency noted 
that NOBOBs were required to submit ballast water reporting forms, that 
it would continue to explore the issue of NOBOBs, and that these 
vessels may be included in a future rulemaking. In May 2005, the Coast 
Guard convened a public workshop in Cleveland to discuss and obtain 
comments on NOBOBs, particularly as they affect the Great Lakes. 
Following the public meeting, the Coast Guard held a closed meeting for 
an invited group of government officials and technology experts. The 
overall purpose of the closed meeting was to discuss technological 
approaches that are now available or soon to be available to address 
the potentially invasive organisms in NOBOB ships. The agency has not 
published any record of the closed meeting.

The Coast Guard just issued a notice, published in the Federal Register 
on August 31, 2005, containing a voluntary management practice for 
NOBOBs that enter the Great Lakes and have not conducted ballast water 
exchange.[Footnote 19] This practice indicates that such ships should 
conduct salt water flushing of their empty ballast tanks in an area 200 
nautical miles from any shore, whenever possible. Salt water flushing 
is defined as "the addition of mid-ocean water to empty ballast water 
tanks; the mixing of the flush water with residual water and sediment 
through the motion of the vessel; and the discharge of the mixed water, 
such that the resultant residual water remaining in the tank has as 
high a salinity as possible, and preferably is greater than 30 parts 
per thousand." Scientists believe that this process will either flush 
out residual organisms from the ballast tanks or kill remaining 
organisms with highly saline ocean water. The effectiveness of this 
process, however, has not been demonstrated. A Coast Guard official in 
the ballast water program explained that issuance of voluntary best 
management practices were favored over regulations because of the 
relative speed with which they can be issued.

Coastal Traffic. Ships traveling along U.S. coasts that do not travel 
farther than 200 nautical miles from any shore are also not required to 
conduct ballast water exchange or to retain their ballast water. One 
such group of ships includes those that travel within the EEZ from one 
U.S. port to another, such as from the Gulf of Mexico to the Chesapeake 
Bay. However, these ships may act as a vector for unwanted organisms 
between ports. The second group of ships falling in this category 
includes those that come from foreign ports but do not travel more than 
200 nautical miles from any shore. These can include ships arriving 
from the Caribbean, Central America, South America, Panama Canal, and 
Canada. The Coast Guard regulations explicitly exempt ships traveling 
within 200 nautical miles of any shore from conducting ballast water 
exchange. However, these ships also represent a possible conduit for 
invasive species. Approximately 65 percent of ships arriving at U.S. 
ports from outside the EEZ--over 28,000 in 2003--do not travel more 
than 200 nautical miles from shore.[Footnote 20]

Key stakeholders have raised concerns about this gap in regulatory 
coverage over coastal traffic. For example, in commenting on the Coast 
Guard's proposed regulations for national mandatory ballast water 
exchange, NOAA, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the states of Washington 
and Pennsylvania, the Northeast Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force, a 
state port association, and environmental advocacy organizations 
expressed concern that coastal traffic was not addressed by the 
rulemaking. The Coast Guard has also acknowledged this gap. 
Specifically, the agency noted in its July 2003 assessment of the 
potential impacts of its new regulations on mandatory ballast water 
exchange and in its environmental assessment of the final regulations, 
that discharges from coastal shipping could result in the introduction 
or spread of invasive species within regions of the United 
States.[Footnote 21] However, the agency did not quantify the 
additional risks posed by coastal traffic nor did it discuss what 
should be done to mitigate those risks.

No Alternate Exchange Zones Have Been Designated:

Several of the issues described above revolve around the requirement 
that ballast water exchange be done at least 200 nautical miles from 
shore. However, Congress recognized that there might be areas within 
the 200-nautical mile limit of the EEZ in which ballast water exchange 
might not be harmful.[Footnote 22] Congress required the Aquatic 
Nuisance Species Task Force to conduct a study to identify any possible 
areas within the waters of the United States and the EEZ where ballast 
water exchange would not pose a threat of infestation or spread of 
aquatic invasive species. NANPCA, as amended by NISA, called upon the 
Coast Guard regulations and guidelines to allow or encourage ships to 
exchange ballast water in alternate locations, based on the Task 
Force's recommendations. The required study on alternate exchange areas 
was delivered to NOAA and EPA--members of the task force--in November 
1998. According to the study, it was impossible to guarantee that 
organisms in ballast water would not be transported by winds or 
currents toward suitable shoreside habitats when discharged within 200 
nautical miles of shore.[Footnote 23] The study also noted that 
suitable discharge areas varied depending upon winds and currents at a 
particular time. However, in looking at conditions around the United 
States, the study identified many locations where it appeared that 
ballast water exchange could safely occur less than 200 nautical miles 
from shore.

Ultimately, the Task Force did not recommend alternate discharge areas 
and the Coast Guard has not authorized ballast water exchange in any 
such areas under its regulations. In its 2004 final rule for the 
mandatory national ballast management program, the Coast Guard stated 
that it was examining the possibility of establishing alternate ballast 
water exchange zones and that information obtained at an October 2003 
workshop, and future workshops, could provide a sound, scientific basis 
for establishing ballast water exchange zones within the EEZ. In 2004, 
the Massachusetts Institute of Technology published the proceedings 
from the October 2003 workshop.[Footnote 24] The workshop attendees-- 
which included stakeholders from the marine industry, scientific 
community, policy makers, regulators, and nongovernmental 
organizations--developed a consensus statement regarding proposed 
alternate exchange zones along the northeastern coastline of the United 
States and Canada. The group proposed that alternate ballast water 
exchange areas, where there is consensus, be adopted as a working 
policy statement by both the United States and Canada for coastal 
vessel traffic until other treatment methods are available. In their 
statement, the attendees focused more on the depth of waters than on 
the distance from shore, noting that the continental shelf marks a 
location that helps determine whether organisms are likely to float 
toward shore or away from shore.

However, the Coast Guard reports that it has no plans to consider the 
use of alternate discharge zones. The ballast water program manager 
told us that designating alternate zones would take a significant 
amount of environmental analysis and a lengthy rulemaking process. She 
also said that alternate discharge zones will not be needed once other 
treatment technologies are installed on ships.

While the United States has not identified alternate locations for 
conducting ballast water exchange, the IMO and other countries have 
proposed allowing, or already allow, ballast exchange to occur in 
locations closer than 200 nautical miles from shore. The IMO 
convention, should it take effect as adopted, states that all ships 
conducting ballast water exchange should, whenever possible, do so at 
least 200 nautical miles from the nearest land and in water at least 
200 meters deep. However, the convention recognizes that exchange at 
that distance may not be possible; if not, exchange should be conducted 
as far from the nearest land as possible, and in all cases at least 50 
nautical miles from the nearest land and in water at least 200 meters 
deep. Australia requires that exchange be done outside 12 nautical 
miles in water exceeding 200 meters in depth.

The Canadian government proposed regulations in June 2005 that would 
allow transoceanic ships, unable to exchange ballast water more than 
200 nautical miles from shore where the water is at least 2,000 meters 
deep because it would compromise the stability of the ship or the 
safety of the ship or of persons on board, to make the exchange in one 
of five alternate discharge zones that Canada's Department of Fisheries 
and Oceans determined could receive ballast water with little risk. For 
non-transoceanic ships that do not travel at least 200 nautical miles 
from shore and in waters at least 2,000 meters deep (for example, ships 
arriving from U.S. ports that travel near the coast), the proposed 
regulations would require ships to exchange ballast water at least 50 
nautical miles from shore where the water is at least 500 meters deep. 
If that were not practical or possible, the ships would be allowed to 
use an alternate discharge zone. The minimum allowable depth in the 
alternative areas would be from 300 to 1,000 meters.

Concerns Persist Over the Effectiveness of Ballast Water Exchange:

In 2002, we reported on numerous concerns about the effectiveness of 
ballast water exchange in removing potentially harmful organisms. There 
are two presumptions behind ballast water exchange as a method for 
ballast water treatment. First, it is presumed that the exchange will 
physically remove the water and organisms from ballast tanks. Second, 
ballast water exchange presumes that there are significant differences 
in the salinity of the original ballast water, mid-ocean water, and the 
ecosystem into which the water is ultimately discharged, such as the 
Great Lakes. If the original ballast water were fresh, organisms in 
that water would, in theory, not survive in the salt water taken on in 
mid-ocean. Similarly, any mid-ocean organisms taken on during the 
exchange would not survive in the fresh water of a destination port. 
Evidence has shown, however, that these presumptions are not always 
borne out. For one thing, ballast pumps are not always able to remove 
all of the original water, sediment, and associated organisms. In 
addition, elevated levels of salinity do not necessarily kill all forms 
of potentially invasive organisms. Therefore, scientists believe that 
viable organisms can survive ballast water exchange and possibly become 
invasive when discharged to a new environment. The National Research 
Council highlighted the need for alternatives to ballast water exchange 
by stating in its 1996 report on ballast water management, "while 
changing ballast may be an acceptable and effective control method 
under certain circumstances, it is neither universally applicable nor 
totally effective, and alternative strategies are needed."[Footnote 25] 
We noted in our 2002 report that despite the high compliance rate with 
mandatory ballast water exchange in the Great Lakes, invasive 
organisms, such as the fish-hook water flea discovered in 1998, were 
still entering the ecosystem.

Technologies Are Being Developed to Treat Ballast Water, but Challenges 
Remain Before They Can Be Used:

Developers are pursuing technologies for use in treating ballast water, 
some of which show promise that a technical solution can be used to 
provide more reliable removal of potentially invasive species. However, 
the development of such technologies and their eventual use to meet 
regulatory requirements face many challenges, including the daunting 
technological challenges posed by the need for shipboard treatment 
systems and the lack of a discharge standard that would provide a 
target for developers to aim for in terms of treatment efficiency.

Some Promising Ballast Water Treatment Technologies Exist:

Researchers and technology companies have been investigating the 
potential capabilities of many different ballast water treatment 
options, such as subjecting the water to filtration, cyclonic 
separation, ultraviolet radiation, chlorine, heat, ozone, or some 
combination of these methods. NOAA's Ballast Water Technology 
Demonstration Program has assisted in this regard by providing over $12 
million in grants to 54 research projects since 1998. Related to this 
issue, the International Maritime Organization convention on ballast 
water required an assessment of the state of treatment technology to 
determine whether appropriate technologies are available to achieve the 
standard proposed in the convention. Toward this end, the United States 
and five other member countries submitted assessments of the state of 
treatment technology development. The United States' assessment was 
based on a study conducted by the Department of Transportation's Volpe 
National Transportation Systems Center. The center assessed about a 
dozen potential ballast water technologies and identified four basic 
approaches that it believed are sufficiently well developed to indicate 
that effective and practicable systems will be available to treat 
ballast water to some measurable performance standard. These 
technologies are (1) heat, (2) chlorine dioxide, (3) separation 
followed by ultraviolet radiation, and (4) separation followed by 
advanced oxidation treatment.

On the basis of this assessment, the United States took the position 
that developers of treatment technologies have made enough progress to 
suggest that the first proposed deadline in the convention could be 
met; namely, that ships built on or after 2009 and with a ballast water 
capacity of under 5,000 cubic meters could have treatment systems that 
could meet the discharge standards. However, the United States also 
stated that it was too early to tell whether treatment systems would be 
available for other categories of ships that will need them at a later 
date. After reviewing and discussing the evidence on the status of 
technology development provided by the United States and other member 
countries, the IMO's Marine Environment Protection Committee's 
technology review group recommended that there was no need to consider 
amending the schedule for implementing the convention due to a lack of 
progress on technology, although it recommended that the committee 
reexamine the status of technology in October 2006.

Development and Use of Ballast Water Treatment Technologies Face Many 
Challenges:

Several challenges hamper development and use of ballast water 
treatment technologies. First, development of such technologies is a 
daunting task given the many operational constraints under which the 
technologies must operate. Beyond this hurdle, there is no discharge 
standard for how clean ballast water must be to help developers 
determine how effective their technologies need to be. Related to this, 
there is also no process for testing and approving technologies to 
determine how effective they are in removing potentially harmful 
organisms from ballast water. Coast Guard and other agencies have some 
actions underway on these issues, but they have not committed to firm 
schedules for completion.

Difficult Treatment Environment:

The challenges of developing technologies to "treat" or remove 
potentially invasive species from ballast water are numerous. On the 
one hand, treating ballast water is not unlike treating household and 
industrial wastewater--now a rather routine treatment process. Like 
wastewater treatment facilities, ballast water treatment technology 
will need to be safe for the environment and crew, and achieve a 
specific level of pollutant removal (in the case of ballast water-- 
removal of potentially invasive species). On the other hand, shipboard 
ballast water treatment systems will have to meet additional challenges 
that land-based wastewater treatment facilities do not, such as: (1) 
treating large volumes of water at very high flow rates and (2) 
removing or killing a much broader range of biological organisms-- 
including unknown organisms. Importantly, the treatment systems must be 
able to operate in a manner that does not compromise ship safety. In 
addition, to make any treatment option palatable to the shipping 
industry, the systems must not displace an unacceptable amount of 
valuable cargo space. Consequently, the technologies must be 
dramatically smaller in scale than those currently used in the 
wastewater industry while still achieving a high level of removal or 
"kill" rates. Further complicating matters, because ships differ in 
their structural designs, it is unlikely that one type of treatment 
technology will be appropriate for all types of ships. And, depending 
on how regulations are written, ships may need to be retrofitted to 
incorporate treatment technology--a potentially complex and expensive 
proposition.

No Discharge Standard for How "Clean" Ballast Water Must Be:

When we reported in 2002, a key part of the Coast Guard's effort to 
move forward on dealing more effectively with the ballast water problem 
was its work to develop a discharge standard for ballast water--that 
is, a standard for determining how "clean" ballast water should be 
before it could be discharged into U.S. waters.[Footnote 26] According 
to many stakeholders we have spoken with, one reason for the apparent 
slow progress on developing treatment technology is the lack of a 
discharge standard. Identifying a standard is necessary to provide a 
target for companies that develop treatment technologies. The lack of a 
discharge standard makes it uncertain what level of "cleanliness" 
treatment technologies will have to achieve. Companies may be hesitant 
to pursue research and development of a potential treatment technology 
not knowing what the standard may ultimately be--they stand to lose 
significant amounts of money if a standard turns in an unanticipated 
direction that they are unable to accommodate with their technology. In 
addition, until the shipping industry is required to meet some 
discharge standard, there is no incentive for ship owners to purchase 
ballast water treatment technology.

In 2002, the Secretary of Transportation reported to Congress that he 
expected to have a final rule on a ballast water management standard in 
the fall of 2004. The Coast Guard has been working with the EPA and 
other agencies to prepare a proposed regulation that will contain a 
discharge standard as well as an assessment of the environmental 
impacts of five possible discharge standards. The five alternatives 
being analyzed are: (1) taking "no action," which would mean continuing 
with ballast water exchange, (2) requiring that ballast water be 
sterilized before discharge, (3) matching the proposed IMO discharge 
standard, (4) allowing one-tenth the number of organisms allowed by the 
proposed IMO standard, and (5) allowing one-hundredth the number of 
organisms in the proposed IMO standard. In December 2004, the Coast 
Guard announced that it expected to propose a discharge standard by 
December 2005, however, the agency has since retracted that plan and 
was not able to give us a new date.

No Process for Approving Treatment Technologies:

Complicating the development of technology is the lack of a process to 
approve ballast water treatment systems for use on ships. In August 
2004, the Coast Guard published a Federal Register notice requesting 
comments by December 3, 2004, on how to establish a program to approve 
alternative ballast water management methods.[Footnote 27] The agency 
stated in the notice its intention to promulgate the new program in the 
near future, but it has yet to do so. In the meantime, the Coast Guard, 
EPA, and the Navy have collaborated on preparing laboratory facilities 
in Key West, Florida that will be used to verify the performance of 
ballast water treatment technologies. According to the Coast Guard, the 
agencies will begin to test the new facilities in a few weeks. On a 
parallel track, NOAA's Ballast Water Technology Demonstration Program 
hopes to help address this gap as well by establishing a Research, 
Development, Test and Evaluation facility. This facility would be 
directed to establish standardization and quality control in 
experiments on ballast water technology. Current plans are to devote 
nearly $1 million to this facility over a 4-year period beginning in 
fiscal year 2006; depending on funding availability, operation of the 
facility could be continued. In addition, EPA's Environmental 
Technology Verification program is working to develop testing protocols 
in order to verify treatment technologies for eventual approval.

New Incentive Program:

In 2004, the Coast Guard implemented a new program intended to 
encourage ship owners to test potential treatment technologies on their 
ships. With the Shipboard Technology Evaluation Program (STEP), the 
agency hopes to encourage ship owners to install experimental treatment 
technologies by agreeing that vessels accepted into the program may be 
granted an exemption from future ballast water discharge standards for 
up to the life of the vessel of the system. Notably, the program 
approves the use of a system on a single ship; it does not approve the 
use of that system for other ships. To be accepted into the program, 
the experimental technology needs to be capable of removing or killing 
at least 98 percent of organisms larger than 50 microns. To date, only 
two ship owners have applied to this program, but the Coast Guard has 
not yet accepted their applications. The Coast Guard has recognized 
that the application process is complex and plans to clarify it in hope 
of attracting more applicants.

Representatives of technology developers, shipping interests, and other 
stakeholders have offered several reasons for the low participation in 
the program. According to the stakeholders we spoke with, the primary 
reason is the lack of a defined discharge standard, rather than any 
particular aspect of the STEP program itself. The lack of a discharge 
standard, as well as the fact that use of ballast water treatment 
technology is not currently required, has made it difficult for 
technology developers to gather the venture capital needed to proceed 
aggressively on technology development since use of such technology is 
not required. Consequently, few technologies are ready to be installed 
and tested on board ships. One representative of a technology firm 
believes the Coast Guard should expand the size of the STEP program to 
provide more incentive to shipping companies and technology developers 
that want to test variations of technologies or test their technology 
on different types of ships. Currently, the agency is limiting the 
number of applicants to about 5 or 6 per year and expects each 
application to cover just one ship. Another stakeholder echoed this 
point, saying that the program requires ship owners to go to great 
lengths for the benefit of getting one ship approved. One 
representative of a shipping association speculated that, although the 
STEP program is open to foreign companies, another possible reason for 
low participation is that foreign ships may spend little time in the 
United States.

Lack of Resources:

Stakeholders to the technology development issue told us that 
technology development has also been hampered by a lack of resources. I 
have already noted that without a discharge standard or requirements 
for use of treatment technologies, it is difficult for companies to 
expend significant resources on development. In addition, as technology 
development progresses, the scale of testing required will increase and 
move beyond what can be done in a laboratory. At this point, developers 
will need to conduct "operational" testing on-board ships. However, 
estimates for shipboard studies exceed $1 million. Given the 
disincentives to pursuing technology development in this time of 
uncertainty, technology development will likely remain a problem.

States Are Moving Forward With Programs Because of Frustration with 
Lack of Federal Progress:

As we reported in 2002, some states have expressed frustration with the 
federal government's progress on establishing a more protective federal 
program for managing the risks associated with ballast water 
discharges. Since then, several coastal and Great Lakes states have 
enacted legislation that is more stringent than current federal 
regulations. As you know, in June 2005, the governor of Michigan signed 
a bill into law that will require all oceangoing vessels to obtain a 
state permit before discharging ballast water into state waters. The 
state will issue the permit only if the applicant can demonstrate that 
the vessel will not discharge aquatic nuisance species or, if it will, 
that the operator of the vessel will use environmentally sound 
technology and methods as determined by the state department that can 
be used to prevent the discharge of aquatic invasive species. This 
requirement takes effect January 1, 2007.

Similarly, owing to concerns with possible species introductions via 
currently unregulated coastal shipping, California, Oregon, and 
Washington have enacted laws to regulate coastal traffic. The states' 
laws provide for additional measures that ships must currently take or 
will have to take in the future before entering state waters. All three 
states provide for safety exemptions.

* California. California law required the State Lands Commission to 
adopt new regulations governing ballast water management practices for 
ships of 300 gross tons or more arriving at a California port or place 
from outside of the Pacific Coast Region by January 1, 2005. The 
California State Lands Commission has proposed, but not yet finalized, 
these regulations. Upon implementation of the regulations, California 
law will require the ships to employ at least one of the following 
ballast water management practices: (1) exchange its ballast water more 
than 200 miles from land and at least 2,000 meters deep before entering 
the state's coastal waters; (2) retain its ballast water; (3) discharge 
water at the same location where the ballast water originated; (4) use 
an alternative, environmentally sound method; (5) discharge the ballast 
water to a reception facility approved by the commission; or (6) under 
extraordinary circumstances, exchange ballast water within an area 
agreed upon by the commission and the Coast Guard. The proposed 
California regulation would require ships carrying ballast water from 
within the Pacific Coast Region to conduct any ballast water exchange 
in waters that are more than 50 miles from land and at least 200 meters 
deep.

* Oregon. Oregon law prohibits certain ships from discharging ballast 
water in Oregon waters unless the ship has conducted a ballast water 
exchange more than 200 miles from any shore, or at least 50 miles from 
land and at a depth of at least 200 meters if its ballast water was 
taken onboard at a North American coastal port. Oregon exempts ships 
that: (1) discharge ballast water only at the location where the 
ballast water originated; (2) retain their ballast water; (3) traverse 
only internal state waters; (4) traverse only the territorial sea of 
the U.S. and do not enter or depart an Oregon port or navigate state 
waters; (5) discharge ballast water that has been treated to remove 
organisms in a manner that is approved by the Coast Guard; or (6) 
discharge ballast water that originated solely from waters located 
between 40 degrees latitude north and 50 degrees latitude north on the 
west coast.[Footnote 28]

* Washington. Washington's ballast water law applies to self-propelled 
ships in commerce of 300 gross tons or more and prohibits discharging 
ballast water into state waters unless a ship has conducted an exchange 
of ballast water 50 miles or more offshore, or further offshore if 
required by the Coast Guard. Some ships are exempt from this 
requirement, including ships that retain their ballast water or that 
discharge ballast water or sediments only at the location where ballast 
water was taken on. The coordinator of Washington's aquatic nuisance 
species program told us that during the legislative process, shipping 
industry representatives and oceanographic experts concurred that the 
50-mile boundary for exchange was both feasible for the ships and 
protective against invasive species. After July 1, 2007, discharge of 
ballast water in state waters will be authorized only if there has been 
an exchange at least 50 miles offshore or if the vessel has treated its 
ballast water to meet standards set by the Washington Department of 
Fish and Wildlife.

Madam Chairman, this concludes my prepared statement. I would be happy 
to respond to any questions you or other Members of the Subcommittee 
may have.

FOOTNOTES

[1] GAO, Invasive Species: Clearer Focus and Greater Commitment Needed 
to Effectively Manage the Problem, GAO-03-1 (Washington, D.C.: Oct. 22, 
2002), 12.

[2] Carlton, J.T., Introduced Species in U.S. Coastal Waters: 
Environmental Impacts and Management Priorities, (Arlington, VA: Pew 
Oceans Commission, 2001).

[3] Pub. L. 101-646, 104 Stat. 4761 (1990), codified at 16 U.S.C. 
§§4701-4751. 

[4] The law called for regulations to be issued by the Secretary of the 
department in which the Coast Guard was operating. At the time, the 
Coast Guard was within the Department of Transportation; it is now 
within the Department of Homeland Security. Throughout this report, 
unless otherwise indicated, we use the term "Secretary" to refer to the 
Secretary of the department in which the Coast Guard is operating. 

[5] 58 Fed. Reg. 18,330 (Apr. 8, 1993).

[6] 59 Fed. Reg. 67,632 (Dec. 30, 1994).

[7] The Coast Guard later removed the depth requirement. See 64 Fed. 
Reg. 26,672 (July 28, 2004).

[8] The general mission of the task force is to develop and implement a 
program for the waters of the United States to prevent introduction and 
dispersal of aquatic invasive species; to monitor, control, and study 
such species; and to disseminate related information. This mission is 
not confined to species transported in ballast water.

[9] Pub. L. No. 104-332, 110 Stat. 4073 (1996).

[10] 64 Fed. Reg. 26,672 (May 17, 1999); 66 Fed. Reg. 58,381 (Nov. 21, 
2001). The voluntary guidelines also encourage ships with ballast tanks 
operating in U.S. waters to take other actions including: avoiding 
discharge or uptake of ballast water in areas within or affecting 
marine sanctuaries, preserves, parks, or coral reefs; minimizing or 
avoiding uptake in areas near sewage outfalls, near dredging 
operations, in darkness, where sediment may be stirred up by 
propellers, or where tidal flushing is known to be poor or times when a 
tidal stream is known to be more turbid; rinsing anchors and chains; 
and regularly removing fouling organisms from hulls, piping, and tanks. 

[11] The Captain of the Port, in American waters, is a U.S. Coast Guard 
officer who is responsible for Coast Guard law enforcement activities 
in his area of responsibility. A Captain of the Port enforces 
regulations for the protection and security of vessels, harbors, and 
waterfront facilities; anchorages; bridges; safety and security zones; 
and ports and waterways.

[12] 68 Fed. Reg. 44,691 (July 30, 2002) and 69 Fed. Reg. 44,952 (July 
28, 2004). The final rule removed the provision contained in the 
voluntary guidelines that suggested ballast water exchange be conducted 
in waters at least 2,000 meters deep. 

[13] 69 Fed. Reg. 32,864 (June 14, 2004).

[14] The IMO is an organization of 160 member countries with observers 
from governmental, industry, environmental, public interest, and labor 
organizations that is concerned with the safety of shipping and cleaner 
oceans. To achieve its objectives, the IMO has promoted the adoption of 
some 30 conventions and protocols, and has adopted well over 700 codes 
and recommendations concerning maritime safety, the prevention of 
pollution, and related matters.

[15] The adoption of a convention marks the conclusion of only the 
first stage of a long process. Before the convention comes into force, 
that is before it becomes binding upon governments that have ratified 
it, it has to be accepted formally by individual governments.

[16] The seven are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Finland, the 
Netherlands, Spain, and the Syrian Arabic Republic.

[17] A micron is one millionth of a meter in length. A milliliter is 
one thousandth of a liter. To provide some context on the number of 
organisms this would allow, large ships may carry over 60,000 cubic 
meters of ballast water. This means that under the IMO standard, a ship 
discharging that amount of ballast water could legally discharge up to 
600,000 organisms measuring more than 50 microns and 600 billion 
organisms measuring less than 50 microns.

[18] Since 2004, NOBOBs have been required to comply with other ballast 
water management practices listed at 33 CFR §151.2035(a), which 
includes practices such as rinsing anchors and chains and avoiding 
ballast water uptake near sewage outfalls. 

[19] 70 Fed. Reg. 51,831 (Aug. 31, 2005).

[20] Shipping Traffic Analysis and Cost Assessment for Ballast Water 
Exchange En Route to the United States--an analysis revisited, U.S. 
Department of Homeland Security, September 2004.

[21] Regulatory Evaluation: Mandatory Ballast Water Management Program 
for U.S. Waters, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking USCG-2003-14273, 
prepared by Standards Evaluation and Analysis Division, U.S. Coast 
Guard, Washington, DC, July 15, 2003; Programmatic Environmental 
Assessment for Ballast Water Management Program for U.S. Waters, 
prepared for Commandant, United States Coast Guard, Washington, DC, 
submitted by Battelle, Duxbury, MA, February 2004.

[22] In addition, under NISA, ships are allowed to claim a safety 
exemption from conducting an exchange and these ships, other than those 
entering the Great Lakes after operating beyond the EEZ, are not 
prevented from subsequently discharging ballast water in U.S. waters. 

[23] Ballast Exchange Study: Consideration of Back-up Exchange Zones 
and Environmental Effects of Ballast Exchange and Ballast Release, 
Alfred M. Beeton, James T. Carlton, Bridget A. Holohan, Glen H. 
Wheless, Arnoldo Valle-Levinson, Lisa A. Drake, Gregory Ruiz, Linda 
McCann, William Walton, Annette Frese, Paul Fofonoff, Scott Godwin, 
Jason Toft, Lisa Hartman, and Elizabeth von Holle, a project of the 
Cooperative Institute for Limnology and Ecosystems Research, Ann Arbor, 
Michigan, a report to the National Sea Grant Program, National Oceanic 
and Atmospheric Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency, 
November 1998.

[24] The area of focus was from Cape Hatteras in North Carolina through 
the northern ports of the Canadian Maritime Provinces. 

[25] Stemming the Tide: Controlling Introductions of Nonindigenous 
Species by Ships' Ballast Water, (Washington, D.C.: National Academy 
Press, 1996), 2.

[26] The United States District Court for the Northern District of 
California has held that EPA exceeded its authority under the Clean 
Water Act by excluding discharges incidental to the normal operation of 
a vessel from Clean Water Act permit requirements. See Northwest 
Environmental Advocates v. EPA, 2005 WL 756614. Court proceedings are 
still ongoing as to the appropriate remedies. 

[27] 69 Fed. Reg. 47,453 (Aug. 5, 2004).

[28] The southern border of Oregon is at latitude 42 degrees north, 
while the northern border is at 46 degrees north.