Spain reports presence of zebra mussel in the Ebro River

During a European Environment Council meeting held this week, Spain introduced a paper detailing the recent invasion of the zebra mussel in regions along its coast. The Spanish paper was aimed at initiating discussions on a European instrument to coordinate the European policy on this issue.


The zebra mussel is well known for having been transported from the Black and Caspian Seas to the North American Great Lakes, with an estimated financial cost of USD 5 million to date. In its paper, Spain explains that the zebra mussel has only recently appeared in the Ebro River but has already begun to push out local mussel populations, while industries in the region have begun to coordinate activities to prevent the further spread of the organism.


Spain’s paper comes at a time when the IMO continues to grapple with the difficulties of identifying a solution for ballast water treatment as well as the possibility of placing hull bio-fouling on its agenda. The Spanish paper suggests that both methods for transferring species via ships need to be looked into by the European Union, suggesting an 'all-encompassing Community instrument in this area'.


With attention at the European Council firmly focused on issues relating to ship recycling and the disposal of hazardous wastes following the Probo Koala incident, the paper received little attention. However, it can be seen as a portent for more activity in this region over the coming months, as the Europeans consider how they may meet the IMO Ballast Convention requirements with the first implementation date of 1st January 2009 looming.


Click here for the full paper.


Contact: Tim Wilkins