In a lawsuit filed by US-based conservation groups, the US Court of Appeals Second Circuit has ruled against US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over the agency’s ballast water permit.
Under the Clean Water Act, the agency is to protect US waters from Long Island Sound to the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico to San Francisco Bay from aquatic invasive species hosted by ship’s ballast water discharge.
Conservation groups including Northwest Environmental Advocates, the Center for Biological Diversity, Natural Resources Defense Council and National Wildlife Federation, had sued EPA over the agency’s regulation regarding the amount of live, biological pollution that ships can discharge into US waters.
The conservation groups claimed that the permit was ineffective and incapable of protecting US waters from the invasions of non native species in the future.
The current permit will stay in effect until the EPA releases a new, stronger permit in accordance with the demands of the conservation groups.
Ballast water invaders cost citizens, businesses, industry and municipalities billions of dollars per year due to damages and control costs.
National Wildlife Federation policy director Marc Smith said: "This is a huge win for our environment, economy, fish, wildlife, communities and businesses.
"The court, in no uncertain terms, has told the federal government that it needs to uphold its responsibility under the Clean Water Act to protect our drinking water, jobs and way of life."
Center for Biological Diversity oceans director Miyoko Sakashita said: "This ruling means the EPA needs to get serious about regulating ballast water in ships that has wreaked havoc on local ecosystems, including the San Francisco Bay.
"Every year 21 billion gallons of ballast water are dumped into our waters, with all sorts of invasive species that destroy local diversity."
Recently, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) unveiled plans to review the approval guidelines and performance for permitted ballast water management systems (BWMS).
The agency also launched an online survey for stakeholders involved in testing, approval, fitting and operating BWMS.
The invasive species from the ballast water discharge has been identified as one of the four greatest threats facing the world’s oceans and global biodiversity.