Under the National Invasive Species Act of 1996, the U.S. Coast Guard and the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC) created the National Ballast Information Clearinghouse (NBIC) to collect and analyze national data relevant to shipping and ballasting practices as they relate to coastal marine invasions (see Box 1). Established at SERC in 1997, the principal goal of NBIC has been to track:
Nationwide Patterns of Ballast Water Delivery and Management. All commercial ships arriving to all U.S. ports report information about the quantity, origin, and possible control measures of their ballast water - a primary mechanism for transfer of non-native marine species throughout the world. At present, NBIC receives roughly 115,000 ballast water reporting forms per year from overseas and coastwise arrivals. NBIC provides a detailed analysis and report to the U.S. Coast Guard on the patterns of ballast water delivery by coastal state, vessel type, and port of origin. A key issue is the extent to which ships undertake ballast water exchange, a management technique to flush potential invaders out of the tanks prior to arrival in U.S. waters. NBIC’s analyses are used by the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Congress to assess national needs with respect to ballast water management and to track program performance.
National Ballast Information Clearinghouse
- IN GENERAL. The Secretary shall develop and maintain,
in consultation and cooperation with the Task Force and the Smithsonian
Institution (acting through the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center),
a clearinghouse of national data concerning--
(A) ballasting practices;
(B) compliance with the guidelines issued pursuant to section 1101(c); and
(C) any other information obtained by the Task Force under subsection (b).
- REPORT. In consultation and cooperation with the
Task Force and the Smithsonian Institution (acting through the Smithsonian
Environmental Research Center), the Secretary shall prepare and submit
to the Task Force and the Congress, on a biannual basis, a report that
synthesizes and analyzes the data referred to in paragraph (1) relating
(A) ballast water delivery and management; and
(B) invasions of aquatic nuisance species resulting from ballast water.