FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Michigan Trout Unlimited urges the U.S. Supreme Court to rule in favor of the State of Michigan’s (and Wisconsin’s, Minnesota’s, Ohio’s, New York’s and Ontario’s) request for preliminary injunctive relief to protect the Great Lakes’ coldwater trout fisheries from the Asian Carp (bighead and silver carp).
Contrary to arguments made by State of Illinois and the Obama Administration in response to Michigan’s legal action, the threat posed by Asian Carps to the Great Lakes economy and its coldwater trout fisheries is real and grave. In fact, the opinion of the U.S EPA is that, “Asian Carp are a significant threat to the Great Lakes because they [the Asian Carps] are large, extremely prolific, and consume vast amounts of food. They can weigh up to 100 pounds, and can grow to a length of more than four feet.”[i] According to the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, Asian Carp “are well-suited to the cold water climate of the Great Lakes region, which is similar to their native Eastern Hemisphere habitats. It is expected that they would compete for food with the valuable sport and commercial fish. If they entered the system, they would likely become a dominant species in the Great Lakes.”[ii] Moreover, according to the Illinois DNR, once they are in the Great Lakes, the Asian Carp will be difficult to control.[iii]
Asian Carp were released into the Mississippi River in the 1970s from catfish farms that were using them to clean up their ponds.[iv] Since that time the carp migrated northward into the Illinois River – undeterred by the colder northern conditions. Had Illinois not illegally created the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal in the late 1800s, diverting water from Lake Michigan and connecting the Mississippi River to the Great Lakes via the Illinois River,[v] Asian Carps would not pose the threat to the Great Lakes it does today.
As can be seen from this photo, Asian Carps have been a fisheries disaster for places like the Illinois River and they pose a significant threat to the Great Lakes’ commercial and sport fishing industry which is valued at $5.5 billion annually, not including the indirect economic impact of those activities.[vi] Ontario anglers alone spend more than $2.3 billion on fisheries-related expenditures.[vii] Due to their large size and tendency to leap when disturbed by boat motors, they also create a safety hazard for recreational boaters and water-skiers. In contrast, the shipping industry of the Chicago Canal generates only $30 million annually to the State of Illinois.
Asian Carps are a very large, bony fish that have little, if any, economic or recreational value and they reproduce so rapidly that they eliminate food and habitat resources needed by native Great Lakes fish species such as trout, perch, and walleye. If Asian Carps are allowed to gain a foothold in the Great Lakes and their tributaries, world class trout fisheries such as the famed Pere Marquette, Manistee, Betsie and Platte Rivers will be ruined.
Recognizing the seriousness of the situation, the U.S. Corps of Engineers erected an electronic barrier in the Chicago Canal to try to keep the fish from migrating into the Great Lakes. However, when Asian Carp DNA was found beyond the barrier, Illinois and the Federal government immediately tried poisoning a stretch of the Canal below the barrier. These frantic and late steps stand in sharp contrast to Illinois’ and the Federal government’s recent opposition to Michigan’s request for injunctive relief from the Supreme Court.
Because of the threat the Asian Carps pose to coldwater trout fisheries in the Great Lakes, Michigan Trout Unlimited support’s the efforts of Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, New York and Canada in requesting injunctive relief from the U.S. Supreme Court seeking the closing of all connections of the Chicago Sanitary & Shipping Canal and related tributaries to Lake Michigan.
Michigan Trout Unlimited represents approximately 7,000 members in the State of Michigan and its mission is to conserve, protect and restore cold water fisheries in Michigan. For more information on Michigan Trout Unlimited, go to www.michigantu.org.
[v] Background Fact Sheet, Attorney General, State of Michigan and www.epa.gov/glnpo/invasive/asiancarp
[vi] Complainant’s Motion for Preliminary Injunction,
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