Thursday, March 3, 2011

Members Introduce Stop Asian Carp Act of 2011

Mar 3: The Great Lakes Fishery Commission (GLFC) applauded the introduction of the Stop Asian Carp Act of 2011, a bill designed to stop the spread of Asian carp and other invasive species via the Chicago Area Waterway System. The legislation, introduced by Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Representative Dave Camp (R-MI), would require the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, within a year and a half, to prepare an action plan that outlines the feasibility and the best means of achieving ecological separation of the once-naturally-separated Great Lakes and Mississippi River watersheds. Such separation is essential if the movement of Asian carp and other invasive species between the two basins is to be stopped.
    The Chicago Area Waterway System, a series of canals and rivers in and near Chicago, is a manmade connection of the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins. The waterway is a vibrant transportation corridor, a route for pleasure boats, and a water management system; any study, as is the case with this bill, must take transportation, economic, and water management factors into account. The Great Lakes Fishery Commission and many others have repeatedly identified separation as the only viable way to permanently address the invasive species problem caused by that direct link between the two basins. In March, 2010, citizen advisors to the commission -- from both Canada and the United States -- passed a joint resolution making the same recommendation. The legislation complements efforts underway by the Great Lakes Commission and the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative to investigate ways to achieve separation.
    Commissioner Michael Hansen, a professor at the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point said, "This important legislation directs the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to apply their considerable engineering expertise to answer a complex question: how do you achieve ecological separation of the Great Lakes and Mississippi basins in the Chicago Area? This legislation, if enacted, would significantly expedite the process to identify the ways to achieve separation."
    Specifically, the bill requires the Army Corps to create an action plan that includes the best options for permanently separating the Mississippi River Basin from Lake Michigan. Creation of the plan must begin within 30 days of the bill's enactment, and the Army Corps must send a progress report to Congress and the President within six months and again in 12 months. The full plan must be completed and given to Congress and the President 18 months after the bill is enacted. It will be monitored by the Council on Environmental Quality to ensure its thorough and timely completion. The Corp would also examine other modes of transportation for the shipping industry and influence new engineering designs to move canal traffic from one body of water to the other without transferring invasive species.
    The Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study (GLMRIS) currently underway by the Corps holding its last two public scoping meetings in Ypsilanti on March 8 [See WIMS 3/1/11], to gather input on the Study. The purpose of GLMRIS is to evaluate a range of options and technologies to prevent the transfer of aquatic nuisance species (ANS), such as Asian carp, between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River through aquatic pathways. The public scoping comment period ends on March 31, 2011.
    Access a release from the GLFC with links to related information (click here). Access a release from Sen. Stabenow (click here). Access more information from the Asian carp website (click here). Access the GLMRIS website for information and to submit comments (click here).