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2012 EPA Research Progress Report

Stemming the Tide of Invasive Marine Species

In 2012, EPA scientists finalized an Atlas of non-native marine and estuarine species for the North Pacific Ocean. The Atlas provides a comprehensive reference to help biologists, marine and estuarine managers, and others identify species that were likely introduced by the release of ballast water—the water that ships pump in and out of their hulls to maintain stability.

The Atlas provides key information for assessing which areas are prone to risk from invasive marine species, and identifies traits that make certain groups of species potentially disruptive when released outside their natural range.

The invasive zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha) is native to Eastern Europe, but was first discovered in the U.S. Great Lakes nearly 25 years ago.

In addition to the Atlas, EPA researchers partnered with colleagues from the U.S. Coast Guard to develop new performance verification protocols to ensure that disinfection technologies and devices used by ships for destroying organisms in ballast water are effective. The test protocols were subsequently validated by independent tests conducted by engineers and scientists at the Naval Research Laboratory in Key West, Florida.

This research is expected to help stem the tide of economic and environmental impacts caused by the release of invasive species in ballast water.

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