Brown Joins Charter Boat Captain, OSU Lake Erie Expert at East 55th Street Marina
CLEVELAND, OH—Following several recent news reports of Asian Carp smuggling from the southern United States to Canada, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) held a news conference to call on the Canadian Ambassador to the United States, Gary Doer, to crack down on illegal Asian Carp trafficking that threatens the Lake Erie ecosystem and poses a grave threat to Ohio’s fishing, boating and recreation industries. Brown also renewed his call for passage of the Stop Asian Carp Act, a bill aimed at preventing the potential migration of Asian Carp from the Mississippi River into the Great Lakes, including Lake Erie.
“Generations of Ohioans have spent their springs and summers enjoying Lake Erie’s abundant fish supply and placid waters for boating and recreation,” Brown said. “But if Asian Carp makes its way into Lake Erie and the rest of the Great Lakes, our state’s drinking water and the livelihood of thousands of anglers and boaters could be at risk. Not only are we contending with carp from the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers making their way past barriers into the Lakes, but now smugglers bringing the fish from the southern United States into Canada for consumption are putting Lake Erie in jeopardy. Keeping our Great Lakes free from Asian Carp must be a joint effort between the United States and Canada, which is why I’m urging Ambassador Doer to step up efforts to prevent this invasive species from getting anywhere near Lake Erie.”
“In the meantime, however, we can and should do more on this side of the border to combat the Asian Carp threat. Not only should we pass the Stop Asian Carp Act to get a prevention place in place as soon as possible, but I’m urging the Obama Administration and the Army Corps of Engineers to intensify their efforts. With peak fishing and boating season just a few weeks away, and with Ohio’s drinking water at risk, we cannot afford to delay on action to keep Asian Carp out of the Great Lakes,” Brown continued.
Brown was joined by Captain Rick Unger, President of the Lake Erie Charter Boat Association and owner of Chief’s Charters, who relies on Lake Erie’s bountiful walleye, steelhead and perch for his business. David Kelch, an Associate Professor and Ohio Sea Grant Extension College Specialist and Aquatic Invasive Species Program Leader, also joined Brown to talk about the urgent need to keep Asian Carp out of Lake Erie.
Asian carp is an invasive species 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. The Stop Asian Carp Act would direct the Army Corps of Engineers to study the watersheds of the Illinois, Chicago, and Calumet rivers to determine the feasibility and best way to implement hydrologic separation of the rivers from the Great Lakes. The study would address flooding, wastewater, stormwater, and safety concerns. The study would also look at alternative pathways for barge and recreational boating traffic. The bill would also direct the USGS and the Fish and Wildlife Service to monitor and survey the waters of the Great Lakes basin to identify additional threats from Asian Carp, and to identify means of prevention.
In December 2010, the President signed the Asian Carp Prevention and Control Act, which adds the bighead carp species of Asian carp to a list of injurious species that are prohibited from being imported or shipped in the United States under the Lacey Act.
In May 2010, Brown visited the University of Toledo's Lake Erie Center to discuss efforts to combat Asian carp, and in December 2009, Brown signed a letter urging the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to address the spread of Asian Carp. 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 nearly $60 million has been devoted to initiatives aimed at preventing an influx of Asian carp.
Brown’s full letter to Canadian Ambassador Gary Doer can be found here.