A bipartisan group of senators from states in the Great Lakes area is pressing for more action on preventing Asian carp from harming the ecosystem.
In a letter dated Nov. 6 to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the 16 senators asked the corps to quickly follow up on a study that is due to be soon completed with recommendations for addressing problems involving invasive species – notably the Asian carp.
The letter is signed by Ohio senators Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown and senators Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin from Michigan as well as those from Wisconsin, Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Indiana.
Portman and Stabenow drafted the Stop Invasive Species Act last year. It requires the corps to compile a report that includes strategies for permanently preventing Asian carp and other non-indigenous aquatic species from entering the Great Lakes.
A final report, known as the Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study, is due to Congress by January 2014.
The letter notes the report will include alternatives but not a formal recommendation of which alternative would be most effective in preventing species like the Asian carp from transferring between the two basins.
“We ask that you identify how you intend to work with stakeholders on a comprehensive alternative that will maintain commerce, enhance and not degrade water quality, and permanently safeguard the Great Lakes from Asian carp and other invasive species following the release of the GLMRIS report,” the letter says. “Please explain what decisions and authorizations will be necessary to allow for implementation of a comprehensive approach to address invasive species.”
The letter asks the corps to describe measures that have been implemented and identify interim steps that can be used to address the problem.
In July 2012, federal and state wildlife officials working in conjunction with academic researchers announced six water samples taken from Sandusky and north Maumee bays in Lake Erie tested positive for the presence of Asian carp environmental DNA in Michigan and Ohio waters.
The positive samples were among 417 taken from Lake Erie in August 2011, and more than 2,000 samples taken from the Great Lakes Basin since 2010. The six positive samples represented less than 1.5 percent of the Lake Erie samples.
Four samples from Sandusky Bay, in Ohio waters, tested positive for bighead carp eDNA, while two samples from north Maumee Bay, in Michigan waters, were positive for silver carp eDNA.