Now’s the time for elected leaders who have said they’re committed to stopping a crucial threat to the Great Lakes to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.
Scientists working to thwart the incursion of Asian carp say the invasive species poses a bigger threat even than toxic algae. The nonnative carp were brought to the United States more than 40 years ago to help control algae in southern fish farms and wastewater treatment ponds.
If they reach the Great Lakes, the Asian carp, which breed prolifically and push out native species, will severely damage the Toledo region’s $7 billion fishing industry, as well as our sport-fishing and tourism industries.
Marc Gaden, the communications chief and legislative liaison for the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, says he’s been encouraged by the cooperation among dozens of agencies at the local, state, and federal level addressing the problem.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers should soon be releasing a draft report, initially scheduled for release last month but delayed by federal authorities, that is expected to outline a plan to stop the carp at the Brandon Road Lock and Dam project near Joliet, Ill.
Averting the disaster that Asian carp can bring to the Great Lakes can only be accomplished with cooperation such as Mr. Gaden described. The Corps should quickly release its report to the public, scientists, and other government agencies so work can continue on efforts to address the carp threat.
Along with the systems in place, including an electrified barrier to stop carp from leaving the canal system in Illinois and entering Lake Michigan, scientists have urged development of a system that would treat water around barges as they move through locks to kill Asian carp larvae. This is a good investment, and governments should expedite it.
This is not a time for the federal government to forsake the Great Lakes. We urgently need its presence and protection. We also need the state of Ohio to step up. And we need cooperation, among Great Lakes states and between the United States and Canada — to efficiently invest in prevention as well as protection.
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