Fishing is a challenging industry to earn a living from. There are licenses to obtain, regulations to uphold, fishing seasons to follow, dwindling schools to hunt down, fierce competition, fluctuating markets, and illegal fishing to contend with. Not to mention the danger of a life spent on water, ever subject to her turbulent seas and moody weather. But, the world loves to eat fish, making it a hot international commodity. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) reports that over 3 billion people eat fish regularly. Communities of all sizes, locations, and development depend on fish and the fishing industry nutritionally and economically. In 2016 the FAO reported that an estimated 56.6 million people worldwide work in fishing industries – both fish farming and open water fishing – with 36% of those employed full time. Estimated at 4.6 million in 2014, that’s a lot of fishing boats on the water.
The inadvertent transfer of harmful aquatic organisms in a vessel’s ballast water has been determined to have caused a significant adverse impact to many of the world’s coastal regions. The international maritime community, with the support of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has developed several new regulations to help prevent the introduction of unwanted organisms. These new regulations state that vessels are required to exchange their ballast in the open ocean (1000m deep). However this rule may result in vessels burning extra fuel and time if the transit area does not normally require open ocean passage such as from the US East Coast into the Great lakes. Competent maritime authorities currently have a very limited capability to monitor vessel’s compliance to this rule.