Target: Roberto Roy, Chairman of the Board of the Panama Canal Authority (ACP)
Goal: Stop the arrival of invasive species on incoming ships.
The expansion of the Panama Canal brings with it the concern that the giant ships the canal will be able to accommodate will bring over increased numbers of non-native organisms to local ecosystems. One common way invasive species arrive in new environments can be traced to human activity: essentially, we carry them from place to place via the ballast water of ships. The Panama Canal has understandably been a major site for the transport of invasive species. Urge authorities to prepare for this influx.
A key step in protecting local ecosystems will be to fill in the gaps in restrictions already in place. Ships are supposed to release their ballast water in the middle of the ocean, which is estimated to remove ninety percent of organisms. Furthermore, tighter restrictions on ballast water are on the way, according to a recent article in National Geographic News. However, some invasive organisms may still cling to the ship’s hull, an unregulated phenomenon under current law. Addressing this avenue through policy can limit the invasive organisms that come through the canal.
The consequences of failing to take precautions could be devastating. While some invasive species enter a port and actually leave no trace, others may become established in their new environment where they can decimate native species and profoundly disrupt the local ecosystem.
By signing the petition below, you can express concern over the probable increase in non-native species through the expanded canal and raise awareness of the issue so that port communities can adequately prepare to stop the spread of invasive organisms.
Dear Mr. Roy,
I am writing in order to bring your attention to the probable increase in invasive species arriving in ships’ ballast water in light of the expansion of the Panama Canal come 2016. As you are no doubt aware, ports are already preparing to receive the giant ships that will be able to pass through the canal, ships which may increase the introduction of invasive species and disrupt local ecosystems where they dock.
While ships are supposed to release their ballast water in the middle of the ocean, which is estimated to remove ninety percent of organisms, some may still cling to the ship’s hull, an unregulated phenomenon under current law. By addressing this area through policy, you can take the initiative and prepare for this increase in incoming invasive species. I ask you to use your leadership to reduce the number of invasive species coming through the expanded canal and protect local biodiversity.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Mario Roberto Duran Ortiz Mariordo via Wikimedia Commons