Press Release

Gillibrand Urges Feds To Temporarily Close Chicago Locks To Ensure Asian Carp Do Not Invade NYS Waterways

Dec 11, 2009

D.C. –
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works
(EPW) Committee, today urged the federal government 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.  Senator Gillibrand also announced EPW Committee passage of the
Asian Carp Prevention and Control Act, which would prohibit importing
and shipment of the invasive species.

“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

Senator Gillibrand called on the federal government to take immediate and bold
action to stop this mounting threat. In her letter to the Department of the
Army, Environmental Protection Agency, Coast Guard, and Fish and Wildlife
Services, Senator Gillibrand wrote, “I encourage you to exercise all available
options to ensure this threat is muted.  I urge you to close the O’Brian
and Chicago Locks if there is reasonable evidence that Asian Carp have migrated
above the barrier, continue the application of fish poison as a temporary
management solution, and consider the possibility of permanent hydrological
separation of the Great Lakes and the Canal. At a minimum, these efforts should
include increased 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 CSSC are operated.  I
believe that temporarily sealing this waterway as we analyze the situation at
hand and decide on a long term management strategy is a reasonable course of

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.  

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.

addition, Senator Gillibrand announced that the bipartisan Asian Carp
Prevention and Control Act,
passed the EPW Committee today.  This
legislation would crack down on the importation and shipment of the bighead
species of carp to help stop their spread throughout New York waterways, and
help restore the natural order of our ecosystem.