Press Release

Ahead Of Senate Hearing On Asian Carp, Gillibrand Pushes Legislation To Require Feds Temporarily Close Locks To Prevent Asian Carp From Invading NYS Waterways

Feb 22, 2010

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, today pushed the Close All Routes and Prevent Asian Carp Today Act of 2010, which would require the Secretary of Army to temporarily close the O’Brien and Chicago Locks as a temporary management solution to stop the spread of Asian Carp making their way into the Great Lakes and toward New York’s waterways.  The closure would be a temporary solution until a long-term management strategy is developed. On Thursday, the EPW Committee will hold a hearing entitled “Efforts to Prevent Introduction of Asian Carp into the Great Lakes.”

“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 all of that, 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.”

In December, Senator Gillibrand wrote to the Army Corps of Engineers, Environmental Protection Agency, Coast Guard, and Fish and Wildlife Services, calling on the federal government to take immediate and bold action to stop this mounting threat. She also announced EPW Committee passage of the Asian Carp Prevention and Control Act, which would prohibit importing and shipment of the invasive species.

Just last month, New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo joined the legal effort with Attorneys General of Wisconsin, Minnesota and Ohio in supporting the Michigan Attorney General’s request of an injunction to close a Chicago canal connecting Lake Michigan and the Mississippi water basin.

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 , 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.  The DNA evidence found implies that the Asian Carp may now be as close as 6 miles from Lake Michigan, 20 miles closer than previously thought.  The invasion of Asian Carp into Lake Michigan is significant, since at that point they will have the ability to migrate to all of the Great Lakes.