By Andy Szal
Federal officials announced a series of short- and long-term steps to prevent Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes — including a plan to redirect nearly $80 million to the effort.
The announcements followed a White House summit on the invasive fish.
Following the meeting with Gov. Jim Doyle and other Great Lakes governors, a 46-page Asian Carp Control Strategy Framework was released by the White House Council on Environmental Quality, the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Nancy Sutley, chairwoman of the Council on Environmental Quality, said the draft plan represents “an unparalleled effort on the part of the federal government to control invasive species.”
“We can and will stop the Asian carp from establishing themselves in the Great Lakes,” Sutley said.
The plan presents 25 proposals to combat the invasive fish, from reducing the openings of the Chicago navigational locks to increasing the educational and enforcement tools regarding the transfer of carp. The framework features an initial allocation of $78.5 million, most of which is being redirected from the $475 Great Lakes Restoration Initiative in the 2010 budget.
Doyle said he was most encouraged by the plan’s major new efforts to net and shock fish in the Chicago channel, as well as the government’s decision to expedite construction of a third river barrier to be completed by September.
Doyle lamented that federal officials declined to immediately close the Chicago locks — the subject of a lawsuit backed by Wisconsin and Michigan — but he said the locks weren’t a cure-all for blocking the invasive fish.
“The locks were not built as fish barriers,” Doyle said. “Closing them does not ensure that fish do not get through.”
A report on the options regarding the locks will be presented to the Army Corps on Engineers in March. Doyle otherwise praised the Obama administration’s response to the problem.
“This is the most attention we’ve ever had to (invasive species),” Doyle said.