Letter from Washington: Asian Carp Legislation

December 4, 2010

Dear Mrs. Spring:

I am pleased to share with you that on Wednesday, the House of Representatives voted in favor of final passage of legislation I introduced to prevent the spread of Asian carp. The Asian Carp Prevention and Control Act (S.1421) passed the Senate in November and has now been sent to President for his signature.

I have long been concerned about the threat posed to the Great Lakes by invasive species, such as Asian carp. These species are introduced from other ecosystems and often encounter few, if any, natural enemies in their new environments and can wreak havoc on native species.

The Asian Carp Prevention and Control Act would place the Bighead carp on the list of injurious species under the so-called Lacey Act. Such a listing would prevent the importation and interstate commerce of live Bighead carp without a permit, and as a result, would lower the risk of an introduction of this species in the Great Lakes. We have already spent $37 million on the construction and operation of the electric dispersal barriers, on Asian carp monitoring, and on studies. It would undermine these efforts to allow live Asian carp to be introduced into the Great Lakes because we did not do everything in our power to block other pathways of introduction into the Lakes.

Recently, we learned that Asian carp were discovered in the Wabash River in Indiana, about 20 miles from the Great Lakes Basin. Should flooding occur in this area, the likelihood this species could eventually reach Lake Erie is significantly increased. At my request, language was included in the FY11 Energy and Water Appropriations bill (S.3635) that would authorize the Army Corps to implement measures to prevent the carp from reaching the Great Lakes by way of any connections between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River, which would include this pathway in Indiana. S.3635 was approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee on July 22, 2010, and awaits consideration by the full Senate.

The passage of the Asian Carp Prevention and Control Act signifies another important step in the effort to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes. These fish pose a real, clear and growing threat to the Great Lakes, and I will continue working with my Senate colleagues to ensure tools like the Asian Carp Prevention and Control Act are available as we combat this threat.

The devastating effects Asian carp could have on the Great Lakes are not fully known, and I want to make sure they are never realized. The Great Lakes hold one-fifth of the world’s freshwater, supply drinking water to tens of millions people, and support a $5 billion fishing industry. We owe it to current and future generations to preserve this immensely important natural resource for the future.

Carl Levin


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