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Posted Fri Jul 2 2010: from Times of Malta:
Ships' ballast water adds a new alien species to the Mediterranean every nine days
Mediterranean states have started discussing measures to control the discharging of ship's ballast after scientists found that one alien species enters the Med every nine days, mostly with the water which the ships discharge after arriving from other regions. "The Mediterranean Sea is a world's major shipping area with more than 300,000 port calls per annum and more than 10,000 ships transiting this busy highway every year. Ballast water discharges by ships can have a negative impact on the marine environment," said Fréderic Hébert, Director of the Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Response Centre (REMPEC). "Large tankers and bulk cargo carriers, commonly operating in the Mediterranean, use a large amount of ballast water, which is often taken on in the coastal waters in one region after ships discharge wastewater or unload cargo, and discharged at the next port of call, wherever more cargo is loaded". There are hundreds of organisms carried in ballast water, including plants, animals, viruses and bacteria. These materials often include non-native, nuisance, exotic species that can cause extensive ecological and economic damage to the aquatic ecosystem - generally referred to as alien or invasive species.
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