Congress to seek more money to fight Asian carpMore than a dozen members of Congress from the region agreed today to seek $20 million for studying ways to prevent the carp from becoming established in the lakes and jeopardizing the fishing industry by starving out competitors such as salmon and walleye.
By: John Flesher, Associated Press
TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — From poisons to nets to electric jolts, authorities are studying a series of desperate measures to ward off an invasion of the Great Lakes by hefty, hungry Asian carp.
More than a dozen members of Congress from the region agreed today to seek $20 million for studying ways to prevent the carp from becoming established in the lakes and jeopardizing the fishing industry by starving out competitors such as salmon and walleye.
Among the options: stepped-up use of poisons, biological controls and commercial fishing.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other agencies also may quicken construction of another electric barrier and improve methods of determining how many carp are advancing toward Lake Michigan in Chicago waterways.
Sen. Richard Durbin, an Illinois Democrat who hosted the strategy session in Washington, D.C., said the lawmakers remained divided over whether to close Chicago shipping locks and gates that could be doorways to Lake Michigan for the carp.
The voracious fish can reach 4 feet long, 100 pounds and consume 40 percent of their body weight daily in plankton — the foundation of the Great Lakes food web.
Michigan and four other states are pressing a lawsuit demanding closure of the locks, even though the U.S. Supreme Court last week rejected their request for an immediate order. Illinois and the Obama administration say there’s no guarantee closing the locks would block the carp’s path, but it definitely would disrupt shipping and promote flooding.
“There’s clear disagreement about closing the locks and I knew we couldn’t resolve that issue today,” Durbin said in a phone interview. “But I wanted to find some common objectives that we could move forward on aggressively and quickly, and we have.”
The White House has agreed to meet early next month with governors from the region to discuss the carp problem.
But some activists say there’s too much talk and too little action, especially since the disclosure last week that genetic material from Asian carp had been detected in Lake Michigan for the first time.
“The question is how much longer we’ve got until this becomes a game-over situation for the Great Lakes,” said Joel Brammeier, president of the Alliance for the Great Lakes.