The development of ballast water management in Canada: A critical analysis of the journey [graduate project].
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Non-indigenous species (NIS) and aquatic invasive species (AIS) create significant risks when introduced to foreign ecosystems. One of the many vectors facilitating the transport of NIS is ballast water, and as commercial shipping increases globally so too does the use of ballast water. Despite Canadian regulations and international guidelines put forth by the International Maritime Organization, ballast water has facilitated the introduction of several NIS to Canada. This paper seeks to analyze the development of, and identify gaps in, Canadian ballast water management, in the context of marine ecosystems. Although large-scale ballast water management in Canada began in the late 1980s, many management gaps have persevered through time, and put Canada’s coasts at risk of NIS introduction. Such management gaps include: intracoastal shipping; salinity issues associated with mid-ocean exchange and euryhaline species; vessels reporting ‘No-Ballast On Board’; lack of monitoring, and; issues surrounding political will. Additionally, ballast water regulations for the Canadian Arctic have not been thoroughly considered which represents a significant management gap, especially since the Arctic will continue to see an increase in warming and subsequently, commercial shipping in the future. Relevant case studies of ballast water-mediated introductions to marine ecosystems are also explored, including: European green crabs (Carcinus maenas) to Newfoundland; Chinese mitten crabs (Eriocheir sinensis) to the St. Lawrence River, and; copepods to the Pacific Northwest. Several recommendations for Canadian ballast water management are generated in order to protect Canada’s vulnerable marine ecosystems for generations to come.