FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
March 23, 2000

CONTACT:
Rep. Debbie Regala (360) 786-7974 or Johan Hellman (360) 786-7336

Regala's Exotic Predator Bill Signed by Governor

OLYMPIA, WASHINGTON - Governor Gary Locke signed House Bill 2466 today, lowering the risk of exotic nuisance species in Puget Sound.

House Bill 2466, sponsored by Rep. Debbie Regala, D-Tacoma, will prevent nuisance species from being introduced to Northwest waterways when cargo ships empty their ballast water.

Washington's reliance on international trade makes it especially vulnerable. The maritime industry helped develop the bill, which promotes the creation of a pilot program through the shipping industry, the public ports and the Department of Fish and Wildlife to develop technology for treating ballast water.

Ballast water is usually from somewhere other than Puget Sound and may contain animals that, if given the chance, will take hold in local waterways and choke out native species. One such creature is the European green crab.

European green crabs are voracious predators that can learn from and improve upon their food gathering skills. Quicker and more agile than other crabs, one adult can eat 40 clams a day and devour crabs as large as itself.

A native of the Baltic Sea, green crabs have already invaded coastal areas in South Africa, Australia and both coasts of North America. In Maine, green crabs are blamed for the collapse of the entire soft shell clam industry.

"Prevention is the only cure," Regala said. "With this bill, we've cut the threat dramatically."

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