Governor Ted Strickland and Attorney General Richard Cordray are asking the Obama administration to convene a summit by July 19 to make plans for constructing a permanent barrier to block the infiltration of the Asian carp into the Great Lakes.
They are also asking construction of a physical barrier start within 30 days of the summit.
In a letter to the president the two write “…this is still a preventable multi-billion dollar ecological disaster, but the window is closing.”
Last month, a live Asian carp was caught by commercial fishermen in Lake Calumet near Chicago – past an electrical barrier designed to stop it. And earlier DNA sampling has found traces of the carp in the Chicago Area Waterway System, a tributary of the Great Lakes.
“We are aware of your Administration’s current efforts to protect the Great Lakes from the significant harm that would come from Asian carp,” the letter says. “But, thus far chemical and electric barriers have proven ineffective, as Asian carp have been found increasingly farther into the tributaries of the Great Lake basin and well past the electric barriers. This is the time for bold, decisive action, which is why we are asking for an aggressive timeline to begin building physical, permanent barriers.”
The economic effects to Ohio’s tourism industry of an invasion by the Asian carp would be devastating, Strickland and Cordray argue, noting Ohio is home to a multi-billion-dollar a year Lake Erie tourism industry that supports 114,000 jobs.
According to a 2007 Great Lakes Commission study, Ohio boaters spend about $1.9 billion annually in the Lake Erie region.
The governor and attorney general are also asking the president to appoint someone to lead the summit and implementation of a plan to construct a barrier.