We cannot afford inaction in fight against Asian carp

In Michigan, you are never more than six miles from one of 11,000 inland lakes or 36,000 miles of streams. Forty of our 83 counties touch at least one of the Great Lakes, and we have more freshwater coastline than any other state.

However, an invasion of Asian carp into the Great Lakes would forever change the way of life along Lake Michigan — and Southwest Michigan would be one of the first areas affected.

Simply put, the battle against Asian carp is one we cannot afford to lose. The environmental and economic impact of Asian carp if these fish get into the Great Lakes would be nothing short of catastrophic.

The Michigan Senate recently approved my resolution supporting the recommendations of the Chicago Area Waterway System Advisory Committee to prevent Asian carp from entering Lake Michigan.

The advisory committee was formed in May 2014 with the goal of reaching consensus on short- and long-term measures to prevent Asian carp and other aquatic invasive species from moving between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins.

Senate Resolution 12 supports the committee’s recommendations to implement immediate control technologies at Brandon Road Lock and Dam in Joliet, Illinois, and to further investigate the specific system of control points for long-term movement of aquatic invasive species into and out of the Great Lakes.

We need action to help prevent a disaster that would decimate our vibrant fishing, tourism and boating industries and wreak havoc on the ecosystems of the Great Lakes and all its rivers.

Asian carp moved 66 miles upstream in the last year and are now within 76 miles of Lake Michigan. The consistent inaction by the federal government to protect the Great Lakes is unacceptable and jeopardizes a $7 billion fishing industry.

Invasive species already in the Great Lakes cost the region more than $100 million per year, and Asian carp could dramatically add to this cost.

There are no perfect long-term solutions to prevent Asian carp from entering Lake Michigan, but leaving the Great Lakes vulnerable is the costliest option.

 

Sen. John Proos, R-St. Joseph, represents Southwest Michigan.

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