NOAA and the Smithsonian Institution recently released a report summarizing the body of knowledge of ballast water issues in the US. The lengthily titled "Current State of Understanding about the Effectiveness of Ballast Water Exchange (BWE) in Reducing Aquatic Nonindigenous Species (ANS) Introductions to the Great Lakes Basin and Chesapeake Bay, USA: Synthesis and Analysis of Existing Information" (pdf) is...well ok, that title is so darn long it pretty much describes what the report is about, so I'll skip that part of the summary :-).
Here are some highlights from the report:
- Ballast water exchange can be "highly effective" at preventing the introduction of non-native species. However...
- ...the degree of this effectiveness cannot yet be accurately measured because ballast water management is not properly monitored or regulated. Translation: We need more and better data in order to estimate the rate of introduction of non-native marine species into the US. Thus...
- ...to accurately measure the effectiveness of different ballast water management techniques, a "standardized sampling program" is necessary.
- Current ballast water management regulations do not properly address so-called "NOBOB" vessels (NO Ballast On Board), which are also a vector for invasive species introductions.
Much more detail is available, including a list of introduced species present in the Chesapeake Bay, if you click through to the full report, or you can read NOAA's press release here.