Sailing News

NOAA & Smithsonian Say U.S. Waters Safer From Invasive Species If Ships Flush And Fill Ballast Water At Sea
NOAA and the Smithsonian released a technical report today that finds ship captains can dramatically reduce the supply of invasive aquatic species delivered to U.S. ports, if they flush and refill ballast tanks with ocean water before arrival. The report describes the effectiveness of ballast water exchange procedures as a way to reduce aquatic invasive species discharged into U.S. waters, including the Great Lakes and Chesapeake Bay.
If ports are exposed to non-native species, these organisms may establish themselves in the new habitat, like zebra mussels and gobies in the Great Lakes, and potentially cause harm to native populations of aquatic animals and plants. An estimated 70 million metric tons—roughly 50 million gallons per day—of ballast water is discharged in U.S. water annually.

“Research and development to produce alternative ballast treatment methods and technology-based ballast treatment systems should continue to be pursued as a high priority toward the reduction of organism transfers,” said Richard Spinrad, assistant administrator for NOAA Oceanic and Atmospheric Research. “This report assesses what is currently known about ballast water exchange, and provides analysis of its likely effects.”

NOAA’s National Center for Research on Aquatic Invasive Species and Smithsonian Environmental Research Center analyzed the delivery of ballast water to the Great Lakes and Chesapeake Bay. These studies indicate reductions in the risk of invasive species introductions as a result of ballast water exchange. The analysis provides further confidence that overall, there has been a decline in the risk of invasion from ballast water in these regions. In addition, the report addresses a potential gap in the coastal ballast management protection framework whereas ships traveling less than 200 miles from the U.S. coast are not covered.

“Measurements made aboard ships during normal operations demonstrate that ballast water exchange, when properly conducted, can be highly effective, removing or killing approximately 90 percent or more of the coastal planktonic organisms from most ballast tanks,” said David Reid, senior physical scientist, NOAA National Center for Research on Aquatic Invasive Species. “Some residual coastal organisms may remain in ballast water after exchange, and also in tanks with residual water and sediments, both which may pose some invasion risk during subsequent ballast discharge.

“It is clear that ballast water exchange has significantly reduced species transfers and invasion risk associated with ships’ ballast operations,” said SERC senior scientist Gregory Ruiz. “But the expected (albeit reduced) rate of invasions for the organisms that remain after exchange is not known. This represents a gap in scientific understanding that limits effective management decisions.”

The report suggests that a standardized survey program, targeting key coastal ecosystems in the U.S., could provide the high-quality data necessary to (a) assess current invasion risk and (b) measure the performance of multiple management actions, including those of ships and other transfer mechanisms, in terms of invasion occurrence. No such program currently exists for the nation.

The report (TM-142) is available on the Web at:

Key Democratic Senators Pledge Support to Boaters

The boating industry claimed a key victory in the Senate with ballast water legislation.

U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and Bill Nelson, D-Fla., unequivocally committed themselves to resolve he issue before a September 2008 permitting deadline.

“A recent court ruling has cast doubt on whether recreational boaters — people going out for a day of fishing, or waterskiing — can continue to operate without a permit from the EPA,” Nelson said in a statement. “They’ve never been required to have such a permit, and there’s no reason for that to change. You shouldn’t have to ask the EPA before you take your boat out on the water.”

Environmental groups and several states’ Attorney Generals successfully argued in a U.S. District Court case last fall that ballast water should not be exempted from government regulation as a pollutant because it introduces harmful invasive species into U.S. waters. Large ocean-going ships use ballast water for stability, taking on water to weigh the vessel down.

However, the court’s ruling also includes boat-engine cooling water, bilge water, gray water and common deck runoff. The court directed the Environmental Protection Agency to develop what the NMMA says is “a complex and costly permitting scheme” for the nation’s estimated 18 million boats by September 2008.

“I don’t think they should have to get these permits,” said Boxer, chairwoman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, in a statement. “I’ve committed with Senator Nelson to make sure we fix this before that time. We are going to make sure that individual boaters do not need permits — that’s as simple as it gets. That’s my commitment, and it will happen.”

Walker Bay Boats Adds Hypalon® to the Odyssey Air Floor Line

Walker Bay Boats® Inc. announced today that the Odyssey Air Floor Inflatable is now also available in Orca® Hypalon®. “The advantage of the Odyssey Air Floor is that it can be rolled up & carried in its own bag, making it the perfect stowable tender” said Paul Roberts, VP of Sales and Marketing for Walker Bay®. “Adding the Orca® Hypalon® option makes the Odyssey more appealing to consumers in extreme ultraviolet light regions.” The new Odyssey Air Floor Hypalon® models will be launched at the US Sailboat & Powerboat Shows in Annapolis, MD October 4-14, 2007.

Walker Bay creates boats from Orca® Hypalon®, the finest Hypalon® material available. Four layers of calendared sheets guarantee air-tightness (no porosity) and optimal adhesion of rubbers. This combination of materials provides improved weather resistance against fading and aging as well as resistance to fuel, oil and everyday abrasions. The tubes are bonded using a three-layer process with all seams internally and externally butted for maximum reliability. Walker Bay® stands behind the Hypalon® Odyssey Air Floor with a 10-year fabric warranty.

The Odyssey Air Floor is a light, compact boat that weighs 66 lbs for the 240 and goes up to 99 lbs for the 340 and has five airtight compartments. The Odyssey Air Floor comes in four different sizes, 240, 270, 310 and 340 with capacity of up to 5 people for the largest model. The new Hypalon® Odyssey Air ranges from $1,699 for the smallest model to $2,150 for the 340. Walker Bay® will continue to offer the Odyssey PVC models for the more casual user and those living in regions where the UV exposure is not high.

Walker Bay® is available in over 50 countries around the world and can be found on the web at



All contents are copyright (c) 2007 by Northern Breezes, Inc. All information contained within is deemed reliable but carries no guarantees. Reproduction of any part or whole of this publication in any form by mechanical or electronic means, including information retrieval is prohibited except by consent of the publisher.