Ohio Environmental Council, May 22, 2013
Freshwater Future, a regional Great Lakes organization, organized the request and found this diverse group, which includes environmental and wildlife groups, businesses, charter boat captains, marina owners and chambers of commerce, eager to sign on.
“The wide range of groups and businesses that signed on to this request demonstrates how important keeping Asian Carp out of the Great Lakes is to our entire region,” said Cheryl Kallio, Associate Director at Freshwater Future.
The groups have requested that the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hold an oversight hearing with regard to work conducted by the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) on the Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study (GLMRIS).
When the Corps submits its study report in early 2014, Congress will face a pressing decision on what concrete steps to take to prevent the spread of invasive species, including Asian carp, between the Mississippi River and Great Lakes systems.
The threat of invasive species, such as the voracious Asian carp, requires immediate, decisive, and effective action, and this coalition has concerns that the options in the Corps’ GLMRIS report will not meet the mandates that Congress originally gave them.
“Congress needs to hold the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ feet to the fire so that the nation can move forward with solutions to prevent Asian carp and other non-native species from wreaking havoc on our Great Lakes and other waterways,” said Marc Smith, senior policy manager, National Wildlife Federation.
Positive eDNA results has found evidence of Asian carp between the electric dispersal barrier in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal and Lake Michigan. A live Asian carp was found in Lake Calumet -beyond the electrical barrier.
Moreover, the discovery of spawning Asian carp in the Wabash River in Indiana and further up the Ohio River also shows the crisis is advancing on multiple fronts. Bighead and silver carp can quickly take over habitat, out-eating and out-breeding native fish.
This will hurt the region’s $7 billion fishing industry and permanently alter the way recreational boaters, anglers and tourists use and enjoy the lakes and their many tributaries.
“Asian carp are advancing towards the Great Lakes via multiple fronts,” said Kristy Meyer, managing director of agricultural, health & clean water programs for the Ohio Environmental Council. “Thankfully the Ohio Department of Natural Resources is working to permanently separate the Ohio River and Lake Erie watersheds connections in Ohio.”
“Congress must ensure that the Corps also will be ready to move into preconstruction of a permanent separation of the Mississippi River and Great Lakes watersheds in early 2014, because a healthy Lake Erie means a better economy for Ohio.”
The group urged Congress to assess the Corps’ work to date and seek assurances that only options to achieve true prevention will be presented and analyzed in full. Without such focus and robust analysis of prevention options from the Corps, Congress will be severely hampered in its ability to make to a decision on prevention strategies quickly.
“As a 38-year veteran Great Lakes biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service working on many invasive species issues, I strongly believe the best solution for both the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins is to separate the two waterways,” stated Captain Rich Greenwood of Keeping the Lakes Great. “This is a critical issue for charter boat captains around the region, which is why I joined others asking congress for an oversight hearing to make sure we are on the right track to stop the Asian carp.”
“While we still have a chance to stop the Asian carp from completely invading the Great Lakes we should be doing everything we can to ensure permanent solutions are developed that Congress can act quickly on in early 2014,” stated Cheryl Kallio, Associate Director at Freshwater Future.