Invasive species from San Francisco Bay — known as the most
infested waterway in the country — would have an open door for
entry into Puget Sound under a bill moving through Congress.
You may have heard this line before. I posted the same warning
last summer, when the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act, or VIDA, was
attached to the “must-pass” National Defense Authorization Act.
Ways, July 16). Opponents fought back and were able to strip
VIDA from the bill before final passage.
Now, with Republicans in control of both houses of Congress and
an anti-regulatory atmosphere in place, the bill’s passage seems
more likely this time — to the detriment of Puget Sound, the Great
Lakes and other waterways.
If VIDA passes, ships coming up the coast from California will
be able to take on infested ballast water in San Francisco Bay and
discharge it without treatment into Puget Sound. Invasive species
that hitched a ride in the ballast water would have a chance to
populate Puget Sound.
With invasive green crabs entering Puget Sound from the north
and invasive mussels discovered in Montana to the east, the
Legislature will be called on to make some critical funding
decisions to ward off potential invaders.
Green crabs and freshwater zebra and quagga mussels are not the
only aquatic invasive species of concern. As I described in a story
published in the Encyclopedia
of Puget Sound, state officials worry about the potential
import of all sorts of harmful species via ballast water and the
hulls of vessels.
To fully address the threats through prevention and enforcement,
the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife estimates that $5.2
million per year is needed. That would move Washington ahead of
Oregon and Idaho in addressing the problems. Each of those states
spent about $1.3 million in 2014, while California spent about
$10.7 million. Washington’s current budget for dealing with aquatic
invasive species is one of the lowest in the country at $900,000 a
Increases in the program would be phased in over six years,
increasing from $900,000 a year in the current budget to $2.3
million in the next biennium, according to a proposal to be
submitted to the Legislature. It would go to $4.7 million five
years from now.