Asian Carp are knocking on the door of the Great Lakes and the gatekeepers lack the urgency to do anything about it. The Canadian and Ontario governments have done a reasonable job closing the door to the importing of live Asian Carp for ornamental and culinary purposes. Unfortunately the US government has not been as diligent on seeking a permanent barrier to entry through stream , rivers and canals.
The long anticipated report from the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) on how the US could stop Asian Carp, amongst other invasive species, from entering the Great Lakes has now been published (http://glmris.anl.gov/glmris-report/index.cfm). In the report the USACE reviewed 96 technologies that could control the transfer of aquatic invasive species between the Mississippi and Great Lakes basins. They boiled these 96 down to just 7 including a continuation of the electronic barriers that are currently in place and maintained by the Corps. Of the 7 alternatives to the status quo, the price of implementation ranged from $68 million to $15 billion and reduction of the chances of Asian Carp entering the Great Lakes could take up to 25 years after the project was approved. This lack of urgency is staggering given the disaster that would be cau sed by the introduction of Asian Carp into the Great Lakes. Asian Carp would run amok with native ecosystems. They would denude the foodstuffs at the bottom of the aquatic food chain that would eventually starve out the larger predator fish such as bass, trout, pike, pickerel, muskellunge and sturgeon. The $7 billion a year cost to the commercial and recreational fishing industry on the Lakes would be devastating. And the economic hit from lost tourism and diminished cottage values would add up to billions of dollars more.
There is a window of opportunity for the public’s voice to be heard. The USACE are asking for public input (Canadian and US) on their report. They have created an online form to make it convenient to provide feedback (http://glmris.anl.gov/glmris-report/comments/). We have until March 3, 2014 to respond.
The Georgian Bay Association will be providing our comments to both the USACE and our Canadian elected officials. It is important for as many people to respond as possible as number of concerned citizens is the only currency most politicians respect.
Some of the key points that GBA will be making (and that we suggest others may want to make) are;
- Governments at all levels on both sides of the border must recognize the devastation and economic costs adding up to billions of dollars if Asian Carp get into the Great Lakes.
- The most effective solution is to create a “physical separation” between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins.
- We urge Congress to fast track the strongest per manent solutions presented in the report, including either:
- Option 5: Lakefront hydrologic separation with physical barriers separating the basins at four locations along the lakefront of Lake Michigan, or
- Option 6: Mid-system hydrologic separation with physical barriers separating the basins at two mid-system locations.
We don’t want our children and grandchildren, who will suffer the most from an Asian Carp Great Lakes invasion, to look back at the governments that were in place in 2014 and wonder why they were so short sighted as to not act when action could have prevented a disaster.
The Asian Carp are a real and present danger to the Great Lakes. Please take 5 minutes to make your voice heard.