The problem of increasing growth of invasive species in ballast waters of the Great Lakes region is an issue of concern for many residents of Florida and the entire USA. A number of these species such as invasion phragmites, mute swans, illegal carp, and Asian carp have been found in the region, thus calling for an urgent action to address the menace. Since most of those organisms, including fish species, mollusks, plants, and algae are exotic and are scattered in the Great Lakes region, they threaten the ecosystem. Therefore, encouraging the use of technological research projects to facilitate their removal and cleaning the lake region is a noble project that none would object. Moreover, technological tools and vessel applications have revolutionized technological development and conservation of the aquatic environment.
In this research project, all vessel users are expected to be literate, thus able to implement the project conclusively. For instance, participants have to be conversant with devices, which are designed for this work and will need to use information obtained from research to make sure that the organisms are completely eradicated from the Great Lakes region. The research project also aims at skill development and about 25% of the funds are allocated to train workers who will carry out daily activities (Banerji, Werschkun and Hofer 520).
Only state of the art manufactured products will be used for elimination of the organisms, and willing agencies are eligible for the grant and loans to facilitate the entire clean-up process. Despite numerous possible solutions for the identified problem at all levels, vessel and other lake users should make an effort to advance the vessels with specific features necessary to aid them in cleaning tank residuals and ballast waters through using viable technology.
Causes of the Problem
Problem of invasive species in the Great Lake, for instance, invasive phragmites, is majorly caused by increased salinity levels and chemicals, which result from mechanical and human wastes that find way into ballast water bodies (Banerji, Werschkun and Hofer 518). In this regard, increased human activity in the Great Lakes region is blamed for rising number of such organisms. These wastes also come from international vessels entering the Great Lakes. Hydrologists and researchers have advanced various arguments in attempt to define the cause of growing number of invasive species in ballast water and to create policies, which advocate for the protection of lakes from invasion (Chen, Lin, Huo and Zhang 982). Invading species are dangerous because they increase water contamination, thus compromising its safety and usability (“US Environmental Protection Agency” 1). Economic and environmental perspectives have resulted in emergence of some arguments against the protection of the lakes in the country.
Often, environmentalists argue that protection of the industry might relent its mandate to provide incentives to its workers so that the latter would improve the quality of maritime industry. Since success of people benefiting from maritime transportation also depends on the quality of water, provision of incentives in the industry might depend on government’s assistance at the expense of development of internal mechanisms to protect the Great Lakes environment (Banerji, Werschkun and Hofer 514).
It is necessary to note that globalization and current liberalized trade in the Great Lakes region ensure that production suits structure. However, protecting the lakes will negatively impact its comparative advantage over the big number of existing maritime operations in Great Lakes region and other parts of the world (Banerji, Werschkun and Hofer 513). The extent to which maritime industry can remain competitive is explained by the application of mercantilist theory of absolute advantage. According to this theory, Adam Smith argued that the company develops and accumulates wealth due to its inclination to the production of goods, in which it generally has comparative advantage over the others. Therefore, profits are mainly used to finance other vessel maintenance activities rather than for the conservation of water body.
Efficiency of the Great Lakes maritime industry operations in terms of resource allocation is likely to affect its output and ability to carry out effective management. Based on the Factor Proportion Theory (FPT), scholars argued that resources necessary for efficient production system must be allocated fairly so that no industry benefits from unfair advantage. Since maritime industry needs substantial resources, its quantity of production is reduced, especially in Great Lakes region, due to poor or inefficient resource allocation. Inefficiency has caused decrease of profitability of the maritime industry in Great Lakes region to a level which became alarming to the stakeholders. It has also reduced management’s ability to carry out effective management of ballast water (Banerji, Werschkun and Hofer 515). This is because the industry heavily relies on subsidies rather than on local initiative to improve the utility of available resources. Environmentalists argue that maritime manufacturers should embrace systems which would improve efficiency in the sector.
There also exists the notion that only the best industry with efficient production systems can survive in competitive economy. According to Darwinist theory of economic development, an industry cannot make significant improvement in its production without being efficient. This effectiveness is achieved through local mechanism. As a result, supporting maritime industry of the Great Lakes in its production system was itself against the principles of Darwinism, thus not acceptable. In this regard, the Great Lakes environmentalists opposed the protection and subsidizing of the maritime industry suggesting that the best opinion would be to leave it to survive on its own. The increase of costs of Great Lakes industry was cited as the reason for its lowered preference, thus being a major cause for the decline of the industry. Basically, the industry does not need any subsidy to make its production competitive. It simply needs an internal mechanism to make it economically viable and able to protect the lake and its environment.
Cost benefit argument
It is apparent that cost of input that majority of workers contribute to the production system of the industry does not benefit them, but only few individuals. Thus, environmentalists believe that protecting the maritime industry would translate into harming the majority who use the lake water not benefitting from the production and enrich few individuals in this industry such as merchant traders and suppliers. Therefore, the government should not protect the industry.
Environmentalists also believe that it is not efficient and extremely risky for the government to protect the maritime industry in Great Lakes. This is because the industry has literally fallen short of the internal mechanism essential for increasing effectiveness and efficiency of operation. This means that the company would be less active and only wait for assistance. This situation may only increase its problems.
Understanding firm’s failure and establishing practical economic approaches of solving such problems is more important than relying on subsidies to improve efficiency and quantity of production. The firm will not succeed if it cannot improve internal efficiency to support environmental protection. Therefore, it will always depend on external assistance during crisis. However, environmentalists argue that proper inbuilt mechanisms could adequately help the company to cope with undetermined crisis. The government can only assist when there are notable disasters affecting vessels’ operation, but not due to its failure.
Company’s employees should be flexible to help in environmental conservation by making sure that harmful substances do not find way into lake water. Notably, inflexibility of the labour sometimes challenges maritime industry of Great Lake. Though the government has some reasons for protecting the maritime industry from the problems associated with changing labour market, the practice has no benefit to the common workers of the industry who have the responsibility of maintaining ship’s residual tanks and ballast water (Bradie 396).
Factors that Contribute to the Problem
Flushing tanks into the lake
Flushing tanks into the lake are one of the major contributing factors to increase of the amount of invasive species in the Great Lakes. This is an act of mismanagement of tank residuals and ballast water. While substituting ballast water and flushing of tanks are practices that reduce concentration of organisms in ballast water, they also help in minimizing the possibility of transferring non-indigenous species into the Great Lakes. Therefore, failure of ship’s management to clean ballast tanks in an appropriate way increases chances of emergence of invasive species in the Great Lakes. Despite the notion that maritime industry protection is not beneficial, there are numerous reasons which rationalize its protection (“National Wildlife Federation” 1).
There exists trade competition among ship owners, which does not work to the advantage of the maritime industry in the Great Lakes region. For instance, the high importation of cheap maritime from the Great Lake region has significant impact on the manufacturing process. Indeed, environmentalists argue that stiff competition created by merchants necessitates protection of the maritime manufacturers in the country.
Environmentalists argue that problems of the international market might inhibit the progress of the industry, creating a non-uniform field for competitive business operation. Indeed, leveraging is not possible in cases of market failure, thus making it difficult for manufacturers to operate at a profit. In this case, market failure might cause maritime industry to incur heavy losses and lead to its termination. As a result, it will not be able to compete effectively with other players.
Some of the resources necessary to make this initiative become a reality include the use of DNA-based techniques to detect invasive species and monitor devastating effects they have on the marine environment. Since machines are technologically compliant, they are sensitive in detecting foreign species, reduce the amount of time used, enhance the specificity of items to be identified, and reduce the amount of money spent on the entire monitoring.
The amount of money spent on monitoring, preventing, and eradicating invasive species also contribute to the resource base needed for preventing growth of these harmful organisms. Further, labor used in detecting the organisms and their actual removal is classified as the resource needed for mitigating their impact in the Great Lake in a bid to make the environment sustainable. Exotic pests and species including zebra mussels, more, and ruffe are also important in assisting in cleaning up the lake (Chen, Lin, Huo and Zhang 979).
Possible Solutions to the identified Problem
There are many possible solutions for the identified problem at all levels. First, vessel users should have a chance to advance vessels with specific features that they need to clean tank residuals and ballast waters by using technological applications. By learning how to use technology efficiently, vessel users get a chance to enhance their knowledge and efficiency of the use of such materials.
Secondly, the problems could be solved through policy formulation, in which special laws will regulate the cleaning and maintenance of residual tanks to prevent the growth of harmful organisms (Bradie 395).
The cost of maintaining residual tanks and ballast water in the Great Lakes is very high, thus requires the contribution of various stakeholders (Bradie 396). Vessels operating in the Great Lakes region have an important role to play in reducing the impact of invasive species, which threaten to destroy the aquatic environment. With the information received from researchers and other development partners, the exercise of removing the organisms will not be difficult and will remain relatively cheap. This is because there are many potential investors who intend to initiate business activities in the area due to its high potential and relatively high returns. They will immediately help to remove the harmful organisms from the lake. The Great Lake region can create a number of employment opportunities for those who are in business. Others, who might be on their picnic will also benefit since lake’s clean-up will reduce its harmful effect on people.
According to vessel users, technological equipment can help in removing organic matters and keep the lake’s environment safe. Since the process involves consultation with various device and equipment designers, the project proposes that the company would use the chance to build new equipment that will be based on the needs of vessel users. This will boost sales of the product and help in the development of the business. Though the research project is intended to start displaying smart phones, there already are vessel users who do not have the basic knowledge. Therefore, every step will involve an introduction to technology so that vessel users can get a good foundation (Chen, Lin, Huo and Zhang 988). Besides, vessel users will then progress slowly as they develop their knowledge. The technological field is large and it keeps changing, hence one cannot exploit it fully. Choosing between the desired and actual needs to conserve the lake region is a challenge that any device designer has to face and overcome. The devices will not be familiar to vessel users but they should understand the importance of learning to operate them since it is practically impossible to live without basic knowledge of technology in the modern world. It is, therefore, necessary to train vessel users early in advance.
Personnel who are expected to take part in the implementation of the project must have adequate knowledge about detection of harmful organisms and find means of their eradication. In addition, they should be knowledgeable about coordination of cleaning of residual tanks and ballast water to reduce the chances of growth of such organisms (Bradie 401).
Time is a critical factor to consider while restoring the residual tank to its environmentally friendly state. The earlier the cleaning process is completed, the better it is for vessel users and other community members who may be relying on the Great Lake water for other functions. Therefore, the amount of time required for implementing the research project will vary depending on availability of finances and the level of preparedness of implementers. Local community can also play a significant role in facilitating the restoration of the lake. The proposal takes into account the dynamics of implementing such a project, thus predicts it will last not more than two years.
The best solution that would make the options workable for people who are responsible for carrying out the project is proper flushing of the residual tanks and adequate maintenance of the ballast water to prevent organisms from growing. This should be done regularly. This recommended solution is supported by the suggestion of environmentalists, who believe that the bailouts decrease the competitiveness of the models, making the industry lose a lot of money due to poor sales. This makes it impossible for individuals to clean their residual tanks and replace ballast water.