Buffalo, NY –After Asian carp was found six miles from the Great Lakes, U.S. Senator Gillibrand today renewed her call for temporary lock closure and announced legislation to expedite the study of long term solutions to stop the spread of this species. Senator Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, has demanded swift action by the federal government to temporarily close the O’Brien and Chicago Locks as a temporary management solution to stop the spread of Asian carp, which are making their way into the Great Lakes and toward New York’s waterways.
“The Asian carp pose a traumatic and long term threat to the Great Lakes and the enormous economic benefit the Lakes provide to New York and the nation,” Senator Gillibrand. “The Lakes help drive our economy, draw tourism, offer endless recreation and provide drinking water for millions of families. The Asian carp could potentially destroy the entire system, disrupting the food chain and disturbing the natural ecosystem permanently. We need to take aggressive action now to stop the spread of Asian carp and establish a long term solution that will keep New York’s waterways and natural habitats free from invasive species.”
Asian carp are large, prolific and consume vast amounts of food – weighing up to 100 pounds and ranging as long as four feet – disrupting the food chain that supports native fish. Their large size, ravenous appetites and rapid rate of reproduction pose a significant threat to New York’s ecosystem. This aggressive invasive species could destroy the Great Lakes fish populations, devastating the $7 billion recreational fishing industry, tourism industry and the general economic well being of the entire region.
The economy and the ecosystem of the entire Great Lakes region are at risk because of the imminent threat of the invasive Asian carp. Current efforts to control the spread of Asian carp include two electrical barriers around Chicago where the Mississippi River links to the Great Lakes. However, these efforts have fallen short, as illustrated by evidence indicating that Asian carp may have migrated past the electrical barrier. This week, an Asian carp was found six miles from Lake Michigan, closer than previously thought. The invasion of Asian carp into Lake Michigan will place the entire Great Lakes under threat of invasion.
Senator Gillibrand has introduced bipartisan legislation that would expedite development of a long term strategy to combat Asian carp. The Permanent Prevention of Asian Carp Act would require and expedite the Army Corps to conduct a study to determine how to separate the waterways. In addition, the study would examine other modes of transportation for shipping, create engineering designs to move canal traffic from one water body to the other without transferring aquatic species, and detail the environmental benefits and costs of each option. The study would be conducted with the involvement of local stakeholders.
In her recent letter to the Army Corp of Engineers, Environmental Protection Agency, Coast Guard, and Fish and Wildlife Services, Senator Gillibrand wrote, “We are at a tipping point. We can either do everything possible to prevent this species from establishing self-sustaining populations in the Great Lakes or we can stand by and futilely try to contain the invasive species after it is too late. Stopping the carp will require immediate and bold action. I implore you to exercise all available options to ensure this threat is muted. At a minimum, these efforts should include the resumption of genetic monitoring and sampling to map where Asian carp are present, continued strategic application of rotenone as a short term management strategy, and changes in the way the locks at Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal (CSSC) are operated.”