Oil Leak 132 Ballast water and shellfish

One implication of ballast water discharge during STS that we haven’t highlighted is the potential to transfer phytoplankton that can form harmful algal blooms or ‘red tides’. The public health implications are well documented and include Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) which can cause severe illness in humans. Any such incidence would cause shellfish fisheries to be shut down until safe to eat. As with all food scares, consumers would be likely to take much longer to regain confidence in the product following any instance and this could have far reaching economic impact. Of potentially greater concern to the shellfish industry is the potential to import diseases such as Cholera. In Peru in 1991 a Cholera epidemic, caused by infected ballast water discharge from a tanker, resulted in over 1 million people being infected and some 12,000 deaths[1]. The economic impact of similar situation in Scotland would run into the hundreds of millions. Couldn’t happen here? Well, Cholera was found in the Baltic recently and can survive in brackish coastal waters. Where is STS taking place? We rest our case.

[1] https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21729106-000-ships-must-kill-off-the-beasties-in-the-ballast-water/