For those still doubting that the monstrous Asian carp is a serious threat to the Great Lakes, consider this recent news: tests have found seven different instances of Asian carp DNA beyond the electric barriers meant to keep the fish out of Lake Michigan.
The evidence was found in the Chicago Area Waterway System that connects the Mississippi River basin to the big lakes. The samples were taken June 23 in Lake Calumet, just six miles from Lake Michigan.
The finding is just the latest that the carp are knocking on the door of the nation’s most treasured freshwater system. Since 2009 85 different tests have confirmed the presence of the Asian carp in waters that threaten the delicate ecosystem of the lakes.
The threat of Asian carp has been known since the 1990s. The response has been too slow, given how quickly the fish propagate and the serious threat they pose to the Great Lakes fishing industry.
The carp grow to be as big as four feet long and 100 pounds, breed prodigiously and dominate the parts of the Mississippi River and Chicago waterways where they’ve established themselves after floods in the early 1990s broke them out of fish ponds.
The carp pose a serious threat, likely a greater threat than other damaging invasive species that have entered the Great Lakes in the last century.
The new DNA evidence follows another report from scientists last month. The paper, published in the Journal of Great Lakes Research, concluded that no additional study was needed before enacting the most sensible and sure Asian carp solution. That solution is to physically separate the Mississippi River basin from Lake Michigan.
U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing, has put forward legislation that would do just that. Her bill should be supported by every Michigan member of Congress and passed immediately.
Opposing Ms. Stabenow’s plan are shipping interests that have put industry concerns above the health of the Great Lakes. President Obama, who is from Illinois and should recognize the fragile importance of the lakes, has been slow to act on the issue, perhaps bowing to Chicago politics.
The alternative to a quick separation is to wait until the Army Corps of Engineers completes its study of dividing the river basin and the lakes.
In 2015. Four years from now.
That timetable hardly matches the urgency of the problem. These two recent reports from scientists affirm the approach advocated by Stabenow. The carp are coming. The time to stop them is now.
— KALAMAZOO GAZETTE