St. Catharines, Ont. city council unanimously passed a resolution opposing New York’s “unachievable” incoming ballast water regulations and is urging the U.S. and Canadian governments to take all possible measures to stop them from being implemented as proposed.

New York State regulators will, in one year’s time, be enforcing stringent new ballast water treatment standards for ships transiting through its waters in the St. Lawrence Seaway. Scientists have said that these proposed standards are currently technologically unachievable. A recent study carried out by transportation consultants Martin Associates showed that enforcing these regulations on ships transiting the St. Lawrence Seaway could impact 72,000 jobs and $10.7 billion of economic activity in Canada and the U.S. Canada would be the most severely affected with the potential loss of 55,000 of those jobs and $8.5 billion of those business revenues in Ontario and Quebec.

Despite the Great Lakes-Seaway having stringent regulations to prevent introductions of invasive species and no new species having been discovered due to ballast water since 2006, New York State’s regulations will require all ships transiting its waters to install treatment equipment to sterilize its ballast water to a standard that is far greater than international standards. According to experts, there is at this point no technology able to achieve that standard. As all ships must sail through New York waters to pass though the St. Lawrence Seaway to the Great Lakes, the regulations would in effect put a stop to all trade through the St. Lawrence Seaway.

“It is of concern that the regulations of one state could potentially halt marine shipping on the St. Lawrence Seaway, a major contributor to our local and regional economies. We want all levels of government, in Canada and the United States, to work together to find a solution to this environmental issue that is both technologically feasible and economically viable,” said St. Catharines Mayor Brian McMullan, chair of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative.

Stephen Brooks, vice-president of the Chamber of Marine Commerce, who made a presentation to council before the resolution was passed, said: “We’re pleased that the City of St. Catharines recognizes the potential harm that New York State’s regulations could bring to its city and region and we are hopeful that other Canadian and American cities around the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway will also adopt similar resolutions.”

The Canadian government has publicly stated its opposition to New York’s proposed regulations. In recent months, it has met with U.S. officials and urged New York State regulators to adopt a more practical stance.

The city’s resolution also urged the governments of Canada and the U.S. to “adopt the position that any legislation imposing ballast water standards on vessels utilizing the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway should be enacted by the Canadian and U.S. federal governments, and not unilaterally by individual states and provinces.”