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Words in the News
Monday 09 February 2004
Transporting Sea Creatures
Jellyfish New rules to prevent the transport of sea creatures around the world in the hulls of ships are being drawn up at a special conference starting in London. The International Maritime Organisation is negotiating a new convention aimed at reducing major environmental damage caused by the introduction of alien species. This report from Tim Hirsch:
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It is estimated that three thousand different species are dumped every day into ports thousands of miles from their habitats carried in ballast tanks filled with seawater to provide stability to unladen ships.

Many creatures transported this way have devastated local wildlife. Anchovy fishing in the Black Sea has collapsed due partly to the arrival of an American jellyfish and the Chinese mitten crab is multiplying rapidly in the River Thames and other English rivers causing serious erosion with the burrows they dig in the banks.

The International Maritime Organisation will attempt to agree new binding rules this week forcing shipping companies to reduce this contamination which can cause far more lasting damage to wildlife than pollution from oil spills.

Tim Hirsch, BBC
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a class of plants or animals with the same characteristics
if you dump waste you put it somewhere carelessly
something which is used to make ships heavier and so more stable
if a ship is unladen it is not carrying cargo
have devastated local wildlife
have badly damaged birds and animals that live in the area
suddenly failed
erosion happens when earth is removed from the banks
binding rules
instructions telling you what to do or not do which must be carried out
harm caused to something
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