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Test site looking for ways to treat ships’ ballast water

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

TEXEL – At a recently opened test site, a Dutch research institute is looking for new ways to combat the spread of exotic organisms in the western world. Much damage has been done by the arrival of algae, bacteria, plankton and larva in the northern hemisphere through the disposal of waste ballast water from merchant marine ships, which helps keep the ships stable. The water is pumped in foreign ports and dumped out at home untreated. Numerous species have spread to the Netherlands that way, including those without any natural enemies which allows them to spread rapidly. It is suspected that the American ribkwal (warty comb jelly or sea walnut), which devours plankton and fish eggs, and the Chinese mitten crab plague lifted a ride aboard a ship. A 2004 treaty dictates that in the future ballast water must be treated before it is dumped. Treatment of such water is a problem since it would severely slow down any ship’s turn around time.