WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today joined Great Lakes lawmakers in both chambers of Congress to introduce bipartisan legislation to prevent Asian carp and other invasive species from entering the Great Lakes and destroying the Lakes’ ecosystem. Brown—along with Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Rob Portman (R-OH), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Carl Levin (D-M), Robert Casey (D-PA), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Al Franken (D-MN)—introduced the Stop Invasive Species Act, which would require the speedy creation of an action plan to block Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes through a number of rivers and tributaries across the Great Lakes region. Congressman Dave Camp (R-MI) and Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (D-NY) introduced similar legislation in the House.
“Lake Erie remains dangerously vulnerable to an Asian carp invasion. Should this species make its way into the Great Lakes, the devastation to Ohio’s multimillion dollar boating and fishing industries would be tremendous,” Brown said. “It’s critical that we protect our fisheries and the livelihood of the thousands of Ohioans that rely on Lake Erie to make a living. We must work to permanently prevent Asian carp from entering our lakes and tributaries, including hydrologically separating our waterways from the Mississippi River if need be.”
A bipartisan bill introduced last year, the Stop Asian Carp Act, required the Army Corp of Engineers to develop an action plan to permanently separate Lake Michigan from the Chicago Area Waterway System, long seen as the carp’s primary entry point to the Great Lakes. Today’s bill goes further to require a plan to stop Asian carp at all potential entry points.
“It has become clear that Asian carp are migrating throughout the Great Lakes region, and efforts to stop the spread of this invasive species must now address every possible point of entry,” said Stabenow. “Asian carp pose a grave threat to Michigan’s $7 billion fishing industry, $16 billion recreational boating industry and the entire Great Lakes ecosystem, and we need action now. We can’t afford to wait.”
"The threat Asian carp pose to the Great Lakes ecosystem and economy is urgent. This measure expedites the necessary hydrological separation study in order to protect the Great Lakes, the hundreds of thousands of jobs, the Great Lakes support,” said Camp.
“Asian carp have the potential to do enormous harm to the economy of the Great Lakes region, so it's critical that we understand and have the best available data on how to prevent them from entering the Great Lakes, whether that be through the Mississippi River Basin or other tributaries," said Portman. "Our legislation requires the Army Corp of Engineers to accelerate a comprehensive examination of all options to permanently block the Asian carp and help ensure that a cost effective solution is reached before it is too late."
“Thousands of people in the tourism and fishing industries rely on the Great Lakes for their livelihood, both in Illinois and throughout the region. The devastating impact Asian carp would have on the Great Lakes’ ecosystem is the number one threat to their way of life,” Durbin said. “With such high stakes, we must do everything we can to permanently stop this invasive species. This critical situation calls for an expedited action plan that will help protect our lakes, while preserving jobs and economic activity in the region.”
“The Great Lakes make up 20 percent of the world's freshwater and it is my belief that we must do everything to protect them. In Western New York we rely on the Great Lakes for fishing, shipping and recreation and the introduction of Asian carp could be devastating to the Lakes’ ecosystem and regional economy," said Slaughter, a co-chair of the Congressional Great Lakes Task Force. “Time is a luxury we don't have which is why this legislation to expedite the protection of the Great Lakes from this damaging invasive species is so important.”
The Stop Invasive Species Act requires the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to submit to Congress an expedited action plan with options for stopping Asian carp from penetrating the Great Lakes across 18 possible points of entry. The bill requires the Army Corps to submit a progress report to Congress and the President within 90 days of the law’s enactment. The full plan would need to be completed within 18 months. Under the Stop Invasive Species Act, the Army Corp would continue to examine modes of transportation across key waterways to ensure shipping could continue while mechanisms for preventing Asian carp from destroying the Great Lakes are implemented.
The bill is 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.