Three US states, Ontario form partnership to keep Asian carp from entering Great Lakes

A new initiative to combat an invasive species of fish from entering the Great Lakes was announced by three U.S. states and the Canadian province of Ontario on Wednesday, 31 January.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder said the creation of the Great Lakes Basin Partnership to Block Asian Carp would help protect his state’s fishing industry.

Besides Michigan, other founding members include Wisconsin, Ohio, and the Canadian province of Ontario. Government leaders from the four founding members have agreed to allocate financial and strategic resources to support the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plan to keep the carp from entering Lake Michigan.

“Michigan is excited to partner with Ohio, Ontario and Wisconsin, and is looking to join with other states and provinces in the Great Lakes Basin to work collaboratively,” Snyder said in a statement. “We need to maximize protection against invasive carp species while partnering to ensure commerce on the waterway is efficient and safe and has the capacity to meet long-term navigation needs.”

The Corps has announced a USD 275 million (EUR 221 million) project to build a barrier at the Brandon Road Lock and Dam in Joliet, Ill. Construction is scheduled to start in 2022 and take about three years to complete. The complex, on the Des Plaines River, serves barge traffic between Lake Michigan and the Mississippi River.

According to the press release from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, the project includes using several technologies to keep carp away from the Great Lakes. That includes water jets to repel fish caught between barges, a sound system designed to repel fish from the channel and electric barriers at the lock entrances.

Officials fear Asian carp would cause irrevocable harm to the USD 7 billion (EUR 5.63 billion) Great Lakes fishery and to the lakes’ ecosystem. Officials also estimate the cost to operate and maintain the system would cost about USD 8 million (EUR 6.4 million) annually.

According to the Chicago Tribune, an Asian carp was discovered last year just nine miles from Lake Michigan. 

“The Great Lakes are an incredible asset to the State of Wisconsin and other Great Lakes states. I believe that we need to protect our lakes; that is why I am signing on to this letter urging action by the Corps of Engineers,” Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said. “This study will help determine the best way to prevent the spread of Asian carp, which is essential to safeguarding our environment and commercial fisheries.”

One state not yet on board with the initiative is Illinois. Collin O’Mara, president of the National Wildlife Foundation, told Chicago’s WBBM-FM that he’d like to see Gov. Bruce Rauner follow in his fellow Republican colleagues’ footsteps. 

“I think there’s been a hesitancy for state level involvement,” O’Mara said.


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