WASHINGTON, Nov. 6, 2013 – Sixteen bipartisan senators from the Great Lakes states wrote a letter today to the Army Corps of Engineers asking for the remaining steps needed to cut off Asian carp entry points into the Great Lakes.
The letter came a day after Asian carp DNA was discovered in Wisconsin’s Lake Michigan waters by the state Department of Natural Resources.
An invasive species, the carp consume large amounts of plankton, plants, and aquatic animals and are considered a threat to the eco-system of the Great Lakes, which has a large fishing industry. Also, the carp often jump between two and feet out of the water as they migrate, causing safety issues for boaters.
Last year, President Obama signed the bipartisan Stop Invasive Species Act, which requires the Corps to present Congress, by the end of the year, with a report on possible strategies to permanently prevent Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes. The senators are urging the Corps to outline the steps it will take once that the Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study (GLMRIS) is submitted to determine the best approach among the possible options so work can begin as soon as possible.
“We ask you to identify how you intend to work with stakeholders on a comprehensive alternative that will maintain commerce, enhance and not degrade water quality, and permanently safeguard the Great Lakes from Asian carp and other invasive species following the release of the GLMRIS report,” the senators wrote. “Upon release of the GLMRIS report, it is imperative that the Corps continue its evaluation process under existing authority so that we can move very quickly on a comprehensive approach to best protect the environmental and economic health of the Great Lakes and Mississippi River.”
Earlier in the year, the Senate approved language in its water resources development bill that aims to prevent an expected large increase of Asian carp in the Ohio River basin.
Supporters said the amendment would enable the federal government to have a more effective partnership with state and local entities that are working to slow the spread of Asian carp.
The provision would put the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in charge of coordinating a new federal multi-agency effort including the National Park Service, U.S. Geological Survey, and the Corps.
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