(Corrects to delete reference to Asian carp in first, fifth paragraphs in story published Nov. 30.)
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed regulations aimed at preventing invasive species, such as zebra mussels, from entering American waters from commercial ships.
The proposal would set the first cap on ballast water dumping for most commercial vessels, according to an e-mailed statement today from the EPA in Washington.
The EPA said it also eased the administrative requirements for the ship operators, allowing electronic recordkeeping. The rule will take effect in 2013, according to the statement.
Ocean-going ships fill internal tanks with pumped-in water that acts as ballast to maintain stability while at sea. That water can also transport non-indigenous marine species into new environments such as the Great Lakes, where they can harm the ecosystem if untreated water is discharged. The cost to the economy from of biological invaders in the Great Lakes region is more than $5 billion a year, according to a 2008 EPA report.
The razor-edge zebra mussels wreak havoc along waterways, jamming pipes in utility plants and dams. They spread rapidly because they have few natural predators.
The Coast Guard also has jurisdiction over the ships’ ballast water and is preparing standards as well.