Skip to Main Content

City of St. Catharines Rejects New York Ballast Water Regulations


Ottawa, Ontario — St. Catharines city council has unanimously passed a resolution opposing New York’s “unachievable” incoming ballast water regulations and have urged the American 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 that scientists have said 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 the most stringent regulations in the world 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 100 to 1000 times greater thaninternational standards. Scientists working for the U.S. government and the State of Wisconsin have both concluded that no technology currently exists to achieve this standard.  As all ships must sail through New York waters to pass though the St. Lawrence Seaway to the Great Lakes, the regulations would effectively choke off all trade through the St. Lawrence Seaway.

 “It is concerning that this one state’s regulations 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 their 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 federal government has publicly stated its opposition to the New York regulations and in recent months has been meeting with U.S. officials and urging New York State regulators to adopt a more practical stance.

Rick Dykstra, Member of Parliament for St. Catharines, said today: “It is imperative that all of us work together to ensure the economic viability of the St. Lawrence Seaway is not compromised by these proposed regulations and I am very glad that the city of St. Catharines has joined in this effort.”

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 United States federal governments, and not unilaterally by individual States and Provinces.”

The full text of the resolution passed is below:


Resolution adopted by St. Catharines City Council

January 9, 2012

Whereas, the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway constitute a vital transportation and commerce corridor stretching over 2000 miles and which supports our local and regional economy, and

Whereas, Canadians and Americans universally recognize the threat to the environmental and economic health of the Great Lakes – St. Lawrence Seaway from aquatic invasive species transmitted through ship’s ballast water, and

Whereas, since 2006 when Canadian and United States regulatory authorities implemented the most stringent ship ballast water standards in the world, there have been no new invasive species found in these waters, and

Whereas, the State of New York has unilaterally put in place ballast water regulations to become effective in 2013 that scientists, academics, governments and businesses in Canada and the United States note are unachievable as a result of the unavailability of technology, and

Whereas, the implementation of New York’s unachievable ballast water standards could result in the closure of the St. Lawrence Seaway at New York’s locks negatively affecting almost $11 billion in business revenue and over 72,000 jobs in Canada and the United States, including over 31,000 jobs directly at risk in marine services and in industries that depend directly on ports,

Now, therefore, be it resolved, that the City of St. Catharines encourages the governments of Canada and the United States:

To continue working on programs to reduce the risk of invasive species entering and spreading through the Great Lakes – St. Lawrence Seaway,

To adopt the position that the State of New York’s ballast water regulations are unenforceable because there is no known technology to meet the standards proposed,

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 United States Federal governments, and not unilaterally by individual States and Provinces,

To undertake full consultations with affected marine industry interests before any such legislation is enacted and that such legislation must be technologically feasible and economically viable,

To take all necessary steps to ensure that the State of New York’s regulations are not implemented as proposed, and

To engage at the highest levels necessary in order to establish a bi-national solution to this critical issue as soon as possible.

Follow Great Lakes-Seaway shipping news on





About the Chamber of Marine Commerce

The Chamber of Marine Commerce (CMC) is a bi-national association that represents diverse marine industry stakeholders including major Canadian and American shippers, ports, terminals and marine service providers, as well as Canadian domestic and international ship owners. The Chamber advocates for safe, sustainable, harmonized and competitive policy and regulation that recognizes the marine transportation system's significant advantages in the Great Lakes, St. Lawrence, Coastal and Arctic regions.

Media Contact:
Jason Card
Chamber of Marine Commerce
(613) 447 5401