The Guarding Our Great Lakes Act, proposed by two Michigan senators, is being praised by groups seeking to protect the fisheries of the Great Lakes from an invasion from Asian carp. Both Trout Unlimited and the Great Lakes Commission issued releases today commending Rep. Dave Camp (R) and Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D) for proposing the legislation.
Asian carp, prevalent throughout much of the Mississippi River basin, pose what is regularly referred to as a "devastating" threat to the species regularly targeted by anglers in the Great Lakes region, such as king and coho salmon, steelhead, lake trout, brown trout, walleye and more. Many preventative measures are already in place throughout the region but the battle is an ongoing one and vigilance is required in order to keep Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes.
Bryan Burroughs, executive director of Michigan Trout Unlimited, noted that "Trout Unlimited members in Michigan and around the country treasure the Great Lakes, and we devote thousands of volunteer hours each year to improving its water quality and fish habitat. We’re deeply concerned about the threat posed by Asian carp, and we thank Senator Stabenow and Representative Camp for their leadership in addressing this issue.”
Burroughs added, “The Guarding Our Great Lakes Act is a positive step toward protecting Great Lakes fisheries, which will benefit of anglers and local economies across the region. Living in the Great Lakes State, Michiganders must always provide leadership in protecting these incredible waters and Trout Unlimited is proud and grateful to see that happening here.”
Great Lakes Commission Chairman Kelly Burch stated that it has become "critical that we take quick action to reduce the risk of Asian carp invading the Great Lakes while we develop a long-term solution to permanently prevent the transfer of all aquatic invasive species between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River watersheds." He added, "we applaud Rep. Camp and Sen. Stabenow for introducing this legislation, which responds to calls from the Great Lakes Commission and other regional leaders for swift action to strengthen protections against Asian carp."
The Guarding Our Great Lakes Act would direct federal agencies to implement control measures at the Brandon Road lock and dam on the Des Plaines River in Joliet, Ill. The Brandon Road location has been identified as a strategic point for immediate action to be taken towards controlling the potential invasion of Asian carp. Control measures, such as new electric fences, would be put in place while maintaining efficient navigation in the river for barges and recreational boats.
According to Trout Unlimited, the bill also calls on the Environmental Protection Agency -- via its established role in the Great Lakes Interagency Task Force -- to work cooperatively with the City of Chicago, the Governor of Illinois, and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago toward permanent prevention measures.