Canadian ship leading the fight against zebra mussel problem

by Canadian Shipper

There is a new weapon in the fight against zebra mussels, the destructive creatures sometimes carried in the ballast tanks of freighters travelling the world’s oceans and the Great Lakes.

The Federal Yukon, a bulk carrier owned by Montreal-based shipping company Fednav Limited, is one of the first freighters to be fitted with a prototype system designed to test for, and eliminate, the creatures. The ship will be testing several technologies to combat zebra mussels, including a copper ion system, before the end of the shipping season this December. The Federal Yukon,launched in 2000, transports grain from the Great Lakes region to countries around the world and carries steel from foreign ports back to the Great Lakes.

Zebra mussels devour plankton and algae, wreaking havoc with aquatic food chains. The thumbnail-sized mollusks with zebra-like stripes produce about 35,000 eggs per season, often clogging power-plant water intakes and forming dense colonies on rocks, docks and dams. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service expects zebra mussels to cause $5 billion in damage by 2002.

Michigan recently signed into law a bill requiring shippers to manage their ballast water discharges to reduce or eliminate the number of nonnative species that enter the Great Lakes.

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