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EDITORIAL: Too little being done -- and far too slowly

Public pressure to keep overseas invasive species from entering the Great Lakes is growing by the month. The latest twist is a lawsuit threatened against nine owners of oceangoing ships that sail the St. Lawrence Seaway system. National Wildlife ...

Public pressure to keep overseas invasive species from entering the Great Lakes is growing by the month. The latest twist is a lawsuit threatened against nine owners of oceangoing ships that sail the St. Lawrence Seaway system. National Wildlife Federation officials said Thursday they will seek civil action in federal court.

Port cities like Duluth-Superior have much to lose if a legal decision restrains international maritime trade. That's well known within the shipping industry, which for years has been studying ways to kill invasives that infiltrate the ballast tanks of foreign vessels, then exit into regional waters.

So far, however, hard work and dedication, haven't produced results. And during the lengthy study period, the Great Lakes have become overwhelmed by creatures that hurt or destroy aqua culture native to the basin. While this once seemed to be a small, controllable problem, the damage increasingly appears to be long term and out of control.

Meanwhile, environmentalists are offering a growing battery of evidence that shows revenue derived from international ship traffic falls shy of the damage caused by invasive species.

So far, the scale has tipped toward industry, but that could change. From Duluth to Quebec City, the trend is to convert the working waterfront into high-end leisure property. Eventually, there will be a dearth of sympathy for an industry that, despite its best efforts, cannot stop the gradual destruction of native aquatic species.

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This is something that shouldn't be ignored by local officials. To retain this important economic engine, they must pressure maritime interests to kick their tranny into high gear. The waiting game has lingered far too long.

The failure to act could mean international shipping will disappear in Duluth-Superior. Coastal and Gulf ports are all too willing to gain additional traffic, and they have more strength in Congress than Great Lakes states.

It's time to get serious and develop a workable way to kill invasives before they destroy our most precious resource.

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