Jessica and I got a brief introductory lesson on the problem of invasive species from the owner of Manitou Shores Resort. I forget the number of “exotics” that now inhabit Michigan’s Great Lakes, but they are most certainly threatening the native species, eve the Walleye and Perch which I’ve enjoyed eating while on this trip.
Apparently the problem of the zebra mussels is not only that they make the water super clear and consequently allow stuff to grow where it normally wouldn’t (because more sunlight can get to great depths), but also they outcompete fish larva for food. That is a serious problem. This is just one example of how invasives are a real issue. And there is one place they are coming from. The ships that cross the ocean and come into our inland oceans. As Bruce Grant mentioned, hitchhiking invasives don’t just come in the ballast water, they can also come on the hulls of the vessels.
The invasive issue is a huge hot button topic, as is the added nutrient load, for this region. It seems folks on the ground get it, those whose livelihoods depend on these natural resources, why doesn’t DC? Some folks don’t hold our much hope that things will turn around until the situation is way way worse, when it will take longer as be more expensive to fix than it is now. The agriculture one should be as easy to fix as the plastic issue-stop hurting the system. Get plastic microbeads out of products, mandate crops and livestock have a set back from the water-at the very least. That would be a good start-here are states that are doing that now-supposedly NJ has a 50 setback, not that there haven’t been waivers and etc, it definitely needs to be enforced, but heck, this is our water we are talking about. You need clean water! Gosh. Of all folks you think would “get” the need for clean water, you’d think farmers would get that! Everybody needs clean water, livestock included!
The invasives present a real challenge-because clearly you are also dealing with vessels that traverse the world and hail from different nations. This needs to be a global effort. But then, our ocean, our water, really is a global concern. Certainly though, we can come up with something to help remedy this huge problem. What are other countries doing? Why can’t we take leadership on this? On all of these issues? After all, the Great Lakes might be unique, but their problems are not.
Definitely the issue of invasives and the power of politics and money over even basic, common sense need (like clean water!) provides ample stuff to ponder while I paddle. Folks ask how come I don’t listen to music while I’m out there. On days like this, when the wind is blowing there is too much occupying my mind-looking for the occasional bump of back wash or current to ride, staying upright, wondering what is around the next bend, hoping for a break from the wind, and just plain old thinking time, I don’t need music. It seriously would get in the way of my thinking time! Not that there’s times when it’s flat and a little boring and music might be nice, but really, music would be one more gadget to stick on me or my boat and I’ve for enough stuff already.