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Senators seek remedy to Asian carp crisis in Great Lakes

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, along with 13 of their colleagues, urged the White House Council on Environmental Quality to move swiftly in developing immediate solutions to combat the prevalence of Asian carp in the Great Lakes. The Senators stressed their continued commitment to practical, immediate solutions to the threat of Asian carp and other invasive species to the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basin; and asked for assistance in urging the Chicago Area Waterway System Advisory Committee to make recommendations for short-, medium-, and long-term solutions to safeguard the Great Lakes from Asian carp and other invasive species as soon as possible.

“The Great Lakes are a key driver of tourism and economic activity for many New York communities, and we must do all we can to stamp out invasive species like the Asian carp that threaten to undermine the entire Great Lakes ecosystem,” said Senator Schumer. “Any threat to the Great Lakes is a threat to the entire New York economy, and that is why I, along with many of my Senate colleagues, am urging the White House to take immediate action to stem the spread of the Asian carp. We must make sure this invasive species does not destroy the countless benefits the Great Lakes provide to communities around the state.”

“The Asian carp pose a traumatic and long term threat to the Great Lakes,” said Senator Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “The Lakes help drive our economy, draw tourism, offer endless recreation and provide drinking water for millions of families. Asian carp in the Great Lakes would disrupt the food chain and disturb the natural ecosystem permanently. We need to take aggressive action now to stop the spread of Asian carp by establishing more immediate solutions that will help keep New York’s waterways and natural habitats free from invasive species.”

In their letter to White House Council on Environmental Quality Asian Carp Director John Goss, the Senators wrote, “While disagreements about prevention measures remain, the Asian carp threat persists, and urgent action is needed. The immediate path forward should include a set of short- and medium-term actions, which should be able to garner regional consensus more readily to strengthen protection for the Great Lakes…As the Asian Carp Director, we ask for your leadership to help guide a productive dialogue among all impacted stakeholders that includes a focus on practical, immediate solutions with broad support across all impacted stakeholders.”

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.