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Michigan Senate Passes Invasive Species Bills to Protect Great Lakes
The Michigan Senate has approved three bills aimed at addressing aquatic invasive species (AIS), i.e., non-native plants and animals that can threaten native species and habitats, and jeopardize commercial, agricultural, aquacultural, and recreational activities: Senate Bills (SBs) 508, 509, and 510. The bills would create an Aquatic Invasive Species Council to work with the DEQ and the Office of the Great Lakes, and to make recommendations on Michigan’s AIS Management Plan, as well as on new laws or regulations to deal with invasive species.
Lead sponsor, Sen. Howard Walker compared the council with the Great Lakes Basin Water Resources Compact: “With the compact, we protected the quantity of the water, now we’re protecting the quality.”
As the legislative analysis discusses, Michigan has already enacted several measures to prevent the introduction and spread of invasive species in the state. For example, Public Acts 32 and 33 of 2005 require certain oceangoing vessels to have a permit; require permit applicants to use environmentally sound technology and methods to prevent the discharge of aquatic nuisance species in ballast water; and prescribe penalties for unauthorized ballast water discharges. Public Acts 74 through 81 of 2005 list prohibited and restricted species, including particular aquatic organisms; prohibit the unauthorized possession and introduction of those species; and prescribe penalties for violations. Public Act 91 of 2009 prohibits the placement of a boat in Michigan waters with an aquatic plant attached, and prescribes a civil fine for a violation. Nevertheless, the threats posed by invasive species have not abated, and the proposed council would aid by recommending additional steps that could be taken.