WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today announced his cosponsorship of the CARP ACT, new legislation aimed at preventing the potential migration of Asian Carp from the Mississippi River into the Great Lakes. The CARP ACT (Close All Routes and Prevent Asian Carp Today) would direct the Army Corps of Engineers to prevent the migration of Asian Carp into the Great Lakes. Recent testing has shown the presence of Asian carp DNA in the waterway linking the Mississippi River to the Great Lakes.
“Protecting Lake Erie from Asian carp is about protecting our regional economy and the livelihood of thousands of Ohioans,” Brown said. “Lake Erie is an invaluable resource -- providing a source of water for countless households, generating economic activity for the region, and providing jobs through commerce, fishing, and tourism. This bill will ensure that Lake Erie’s ecosystems – and our region’s economic development – are not jeopardized by an influx of Asian carp.”
Asian Carp is an invasive species – a non-native fish that competes with native species for food – that would threaten the ecosystem of Lake Erie. Researchers have found that in many sections of the Mississippi and Illinois rivers, Asian Carp are the only species present. More than 185 species of fish, mussels, and plants from Asia and Eastern Europe are already in the Great Lakes system, choking out native species.
Lake Erie is the shallowest and warmest of the Great Lakes and is home to more than half the lake system's fish. Thousands of people visit Lake Erie each year, spending an estimated $1.1 billion a year on lodging, travel and food specifically to catch sport fish like walleye and perch. In total, the Lake is estimated to generate $50 billion in economic activity each year.
The CARP ACT would ensure the immediate closure of the O'Brien Lock and Dam and the Chicago Controlling Works until a permanent lock operations strategy is developed. The Army Corps of Engineers would install barriers in the North Shore Channel and the Grand and Little Calumet Rivers to prevent the migration of bighead and silver carps into Lake Michigan.
The legislation also calls for two studies to mitigate the impact on existing commerce in the canals and rivers and to decrease the effects on Chicago flood control. The Army Corps of Engineers will also have the authority to eliminate and prevent the spread of Asian Carp by utilizing fish toxicant, commercial fishing and netting, and harvesting.
In December, Brown signed a letter urging the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to consider the following:
• Implementing the recommendations of the Asian Carp Rapid Response Project. This project is a federal/non-federal partnership of leading experts
• Closing the O’Brien and Chicago Locks if there is reasonable likelihood that Asian carp are above the barrier
• Continuing the use of pisciscides as a rapid response measure
• Creating a permanent hydrological separation between the Great Lakes and the Canal
• Increasing the voltage of the electric dispersal barrier to prevent Asian carp of any size from crossing the barrier
• Drafting and approving the planned interim reports as part of the Efficacy Study, which was authorized under section 3061 of the Water Resources Development Act of 2007 in order for the Corps of Engineers to take action to prevent Asian carp from bypassing the existing electric dispersal barrier project in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal
S. 2946 was introduced by Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) last month. Companion legislation was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congressman Dave Camp (R-MI).
Brown is a tireless advocate for the Great Lakes. He helped pass the Great Lakes Water Resources Compact, which establishes common stewardship goals for the Great Lakes and a common set of rules that will be followed by the eight Great Lakes states. He also fought to include more than $475 million in the Fiscal Year 2010 budget for Great Lakes cleanup – of which $14 million has been devoted to initiatives aimed at preventing an influx of Asian carp.