The Great Ships Initiative (GSI; http://www.greatshipsinitiative.org) is a regional effort devoted to ending the problem of ship-mediated invasive species in the North American Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System and globally. Since its establishment in 2006, GSI has provided independent performance and verification testing services to developers of ballast water treatment systems at the bench, land-based and shipboard scales. GSI performs formal verification tests appropriate to market-ready ballast water treatment systems, and informal status testing for systems that are still in the research and development stages.
In terms of organization, GSI is a project of the Northeast-Midwest Institute (NEMWI; http://www.nemw.org) —a Washington, D.C-based private, non-profit, and non-partisan research organization dedicated to the economic vitality, environmental quality, and regional equity of Northeast and Midwest states. The project is carried out collaboratively with contracting entities including the University of Wisconsin-Superior, AMI Consulting Engineers, Broadreach Services, and the University of Minnesota-Duluth. A GSI Advisory Committee comprising elected leadership and top-level representatives of environmental organizations, Great Lakes port authorities, federal agencies from the United States and Canada, and industry representatives provides direct input to the GSI Director, advising on GSI award decisions, program direction, finances and fund-raising. The American Great Lakes Ports Association also advises the project, assuring that GSI is meeting the needs of the maritime industry; and coordinates maritime industry and supply chain outreach.
GSI’s target audience includes state, regional, national and international policy makers, regulators, ship owners, researchers/scientists, and ballast water treatment developers.