Because 95% of all foreign goods by weight enter the U.S. through its ports, the potential for invasive species impacts on coastal communities is immense. Cruise ships, large tankers, and bulk cargo carriers use a huge 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. Ballast water discharge typically contains a variety of biological materials, including plants, animals, viruses, and bacteria. These materials often include non-native, nuisance, exotic species that can cause extensive ecological and economic damage to aquatic ecosystems, along with serious human health issues including death.
For more information, visit the Pacific Ballast Working Group portion of this site here.