According to a news release, U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D) and Congressman Dave Camp (R) - sponsors of legislation to speed up the creation of a plan to protect the Great Lakes from Asian carp - have applauded an announcement by the Army Corps of Engineers that efforts to block the invasive species have been accelerated. Subsequent to the introduction of the bill, Corps of Engineers has announced that it will complete a set of options for permanent barriers to stop Asian carp and other invasive species in 2013, years ahead of schedule. Last week, a power failure and equipment malfunction temporarily shut down the electric barrier at the Chicago Waterway that is the only physical barrier to the entry of the voracious Asian carp into the Great Lakes.
Senator Stabenow said, "I am pleased the Army Corps has agreed that efforts to stop Asian carp must be accelerated. There is still much work to do before permanent barriers are completed, but having action moved years ahead of schedule is a very positive development." Commercial and sport fishermen, environmentalists and others are concerned that the admission of the non-native Asian carp would virtually destroy the native fish population, which includes lake trout, sturgeon, walleye, perch, native carp, and other species. Introduced in the 1980s in Deep South fishfarms, Asian carp have since been naturalized in lakes and streams in the southern U.S. They are known to jump out of the water, especially when disturbed by the noise produced by boat motors. Injuries and deaths of boaters and fishermen have resulted.
The Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study (GLMRIS) is being conducted by the Corps of Engineers, in consultation with other federal agencies, Native American tribes, state agencies, local governments and non-governmental organizations. According to the Corps of Engineers, the "GLMRIS will explore options and technologies, collectively known as aquatic nuisance species (ANS) controls, that could be applied to prevent ANS transfer between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins through aquatic pathways." This would include Asia carp, and other species such as the Snakehead fish, Zebra mussels, certain aquatic plants, and other invasive organisms.
Said Congressman Camp, "Last week's temporary failure of the electric barriers show we need to begin implementing a permanent solution as soon as possible to prevent Asian carp from destroying the Great Lakes ecosystem and the $7 billion dollar economy they support."
The Army Corps is currently creating an action plan to block Asian carp and other invasive species from entering the Great Lakes through a number of rivers and tributaries-but had previously said it would not complete the plan or any portions of it until late 2015 or even beyond. Senator Stabenow and Congressman Camp previously introduced identical legislation in their respective chambers of Congress, the Stop Invasive Species Act, to require the plan be completed within 18 months. It was just this week that the Corps of Engineers announced it would provide Congress with options for methods of blocking Asian carp and other invasive species from entering the Great Lakes next year. According to the release, an amendment based on the Stabenow-Camp legislation passed the Senate Appropriations Committee on April 26.
Co-sponsors of the bill include numerous senators from the Great Lakes Basin states, and members of the House of Representatives. The bill is also supported by the Great Lakes Commission, The Great Lakes Fishery Commission, Alliance for the Great Lakes, Healing our Waters Coalition, National Wildlife Federation and Trout Unlimited.