Detroit News: Mich. lawmakers find new urgency to stop Asian carp

Washington — Michigan lawmakers in Congress say the results of a new federal study illustrate the urgency to empower the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to do more to prevent Asian carp from infiltrating the Great Lakes.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service last week released a study showing smaller fish species such as the invasive Asian carp could inadvertently travel upstream with commercial barge traffic through electric barriers intended to stop them from reaching the Great Lakes from the Mississippi River Basin.

The agency said its research using golden shriners found that small fish can become trapped between barges and transported through a lock-and-dam system and across electrical barriers such as those in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal.

“Since this study exclusively used golden shriners, we do not know if juvenile Asian carp would respond the same way,” the Fish and Wildlife Service said in a statement, adding that it has no evidence that Asian carp have ever passed the electrical barriers this way.

Lawmakers are still concerned, with Rep. Candice Miller, R-Harrison Township, noting that invasive species “hitching rides” on ships is how zebra mussels ended up in the Great Lakes.

Miller said she hopes the study serves as a wake-up call to those throughout the Great Lakes region that “we cannot stand idly by” as Asian carp continue to move up the Mississippi River “devastating every ecosystem in their path.”

“We cannot wait,” Miller said in a statement. “It is critical that we take swift, substantive action.”

Miller and Sens. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing, and Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township, are pushing a bicameral bill that would require the Army Corps of Engineers to use the Brandon Road Lock and Dam along the Chicago waterway system to monitor and prevent Asian carp from migrating further north.

The Obama administration has been noncommital about closing the locks between the Chicago waterway system and the Great Lakes. President Barack Obama is a former U.S. senator from Illinois, where the Chicago waterway system is located.

Stabenow and Peters on Thursday wrote to the Obama administration, urging $3 million in funding specifically for the Army Corps feasibility study underway at the Brandon Road Lock and Dam and for completion of the study within three years.

By:  Melissa Nann Burke
Source: Detroit News