U.S. Rep. Steven C. LaTourette (R-OH) today announced that the House has passed a bill that could prevent Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes and Lake Erie. The Senate passed the bill on November 17. With House passage, it will be sent to the White House for the President's signature.
LaTourette was a supporter of legislation in the House to control the spread of Asian carp, and supported the Senate bill yesterday. He said S. 1421, the Asian Carp Prevention and Control Act, was necessary because a live Asian carp was found June 22 on the Michigan side of the Army Corps of Engineer's electric barrier in Chicago. The bill makes it a crime to import Asian carp into the U.S., just as it's a crime to import zebra mussels, another invasive species.
He said carp were found past the barriers a few miles from Lake Michigan. Asian carp were found spawning in the Wabash River in Illinois, not far from a connection to the Maumee River, which feeds into Lake Erie.
"If Asian carp invade the Great Lakes it will be devastating. These massive fish can jump into boats and have voracious appetites that will wreak havoc with native Great Lakes fish," LaTourette said. "It's imperative to thwart their entrance to the Great Lakes."
The carp are huge, often four feet long and weighing up to 100 pounds, and can eat half their body weight in a day. The EPA has said that researchers "expect that Asian carp would disrupt the food chain that supports the native fish of the Great Lakes." The EPA also says "their large size, ravenous appetites, and rapid rate of reproduction .could pose a significant risk to the Great Lakes Ecosystem."
LaTourette said the invasive species could pose a tremendous threat to the Great Lakes' $7.5 billion fishing industry and the 800,000 jobs it supports.
As former co-chair of the Great Lakes Task Force, LaTourette has been very involved in invasive species issues impacting the Great Lakes. He and former Sen. John Glenn teamed up to pass the reauthorization of the landmark National Invasive Species Act, or NISA.