WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) joined a group of 11 Senators who sent a letter urging President Obama to name a federal Coordinated Response Commander responsible for organizing efforts to contain the spread of Asian carp. Brown joined Sens. George V. Voinovich (R-OH), Carl Levin (D-MI), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Russ Feingold (D-WI), Herb Kohl (D-WI), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Al Franken (D-MN), Richard Lugar (R-IN), Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) in the letter.
“The Great Lakes are a national treasure, a significant economic resource and an invaluable recreational ecosystem. The Asian carp have the potential to debilitate a multi-billion dollar fishing industry and significantly impart the tourism industry,” Brown wrote. “That is why we are calling on you to immediately appoint a Coordinated Response Commander for Asian carp to fight this battle.”
Last week, an adult Asian carp was discovered six miles from Lake Michigan. 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.
Brown is fighting to pass the CARP ACT, legislation aimed at preventing the potential migration of Asian carp from the Mississippi River into the Great Lakes. Last month, Brown (D-OH) visited the University of Toledo's Lake Erie Center to discuss efforts to combat Asian carp. 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 $14 million has been devoted to initiatives aimed at preventing an influx of Asian carp.
Full text of the letter follows.
June 25, 2010
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Dear Mr. President:
We write to request your immediate assistance in strengthening the coordinated effort of federal, state and local agencies working to protect the Great Lakes from the spread of the invasive Asian carp. Several agencies have put considerable resources into preventing the Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes, and we appreciate that some progress has been made. But with the discovery this week of an adult Asian carp six miles from Lake Michigan, we write to you with a renewed sense of urgency, asking you to name a federal Coordinated Response Commander for Asian carp who can effectively marshal and organize these efforts to contain the spread of the carp.
State and federal officials have worked together since 2003 to develop containment strategies, including construction of electric barriers in the waterway designed to prevent the fish from reaching Lake Michigan and the other Great Lakes. Now a Bighead Asian Carp has been taken from the waterway on the wrong side of the electric barrier. Scientists tell us that once Asian carp are established in the Great Lakes, significant environmental deterioration is unavoidable.
The Great Lakes are a national treasure, a significant economic resource and an invaluable recreational ecosystem. The Asian carp have the potential to debilitate a multi-billion dollar fishing industry and significantly impair the tourism industry. Of far more significance, though, is the threat this invasive species poses to the ecological viability of the Great Lakes. Preventing the Asian carp from entering Lake Michigan should be a national priority. We need the best and the brightest -- scientists, engineers, and environmental experts -- focused on this single goal.
That is why we are calling on you to immediately appoint a Coordinated Response Commander for Asian carp to fight this battle. We need someone with the knowledge and skills to direct and coordinate multiple federal, state and private sector efforts.
We are committed to working with you and your Administration to continue our efforts to fight this aggressive invasive species. Thank you for your support of the Great Lakes. We look forward to your response.