U.S. Representative Judy Biggert (R-13th-IL) today secured passage of bipartisan legislation designed to tighten restrictions on the importation of Asian carp, an invasive species threatening Great Lakes waterways. Sponsored by Senator Carl Levin (D-MI), S. 1421, the Asian Carp Prevention and Control Act, passed the House by voice vote and will now head to the President for his signature. Biggert, who has sponsored the House companion measure since 2007, called the bill's passage "a long-overdue victory for wildlife preservation."
"These carp were originally brought to U.S. waters in the 1970's by southern fish farmers as a way to cleanse breeding ponds," said Biggert. "They now have spread from the Gulf to the Great Lakes, displacing native species, destroying fishing habitats, and threatening maritime jobs. It's past time to recognize that these species do not belong in fish tanks, domestic ponds, or any other place from which they could reach other fragile ecosystems."
The bill will add the Bighead species of Asian carp to a list of injurious species under the Lacey Act and prevent the sale or importation of the fish into the U.S. The ban would not apply to dead fish. Last June, federal wildlife managers found a single Bighead carp in Lake Calumet -- the first time an Asian carp had been confirmed in waters north of the electronic barrier system near Romeoville, Illinois. Since 2002, Biggert, a long-time advocate for preservation of the Great Lakes, has championed funding and authorization language for additional barriers and other anti-carp measures designed to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species through the Chicago Ship and Sanitary Canal.
"I'm very pleased we were able to work with our colleagues from Michigan to secure enactment of this measure, and grateful for the support of my colleagues from throughout the Great Lakes states," said Biggert. "After the spring thaw, our work with environmental managers to combat the carp will kick into high gear once again, and we'll need all hands on deck to protect Lake Michigan and the jobs that depend on Midwest waterways."
Asian carp prey on and compete with native species for food, living space, and spawning areas. Individual fish can grow to between 50 and 150 pounds and eat up to 40 percent of their body weight every day.