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Mrs. BIGGERT. Madam Speaker, I rise today to ask my colleagues to support Senate 1421, the Asian Carp Prevention and Control Act. This is the Senate companion to a bill I have sponsored in this House since 2007, and its passage will be a long overdue victory for wildlife preservation here in the United States.
As most of you know, those of us in the Illinois delegation have worked tirelessly to stem the spread of invasive species into the Great Lakes ecosystem for many years. Currently, Asian carp are the single greatest biological threat to that natural habitat, having traveled for the last four decades up the Mississippi River basin into the Illinois River, and now is close to the shipping and sanitary canals that connect our rivers to the freshwater lakes, particularly Lake Michigan. These ferocious fish prey on and compete with the native species for food and eat up to 40 percent of their body weight every day, as has been mentioned. And because they eat the natural plant life near the bottom of the food chain, they can quickly displace native species, destroy fishing habitats, and threaten maritime jobs.
The reason these fish came to become such a nuisance and cost taxpayers millions of dollars to combat is because they were imported into the U.S. by the southern fish farmers who used them to clean their breeding ponds. Subsequent flooding allowed them to escape into our river system and eventually travel up from the gulf towards Lake Michigan.
Madam Speaker, it is long past the time to recognize that these species do not belong in fish tanks--they certainly wouldn't fit because they grow so large--and domestic ponds where they could find their way into other fragile ecosystems.
In Illinois, we have spent an awful lot of time working on ways to keep those fish out of the Great Lakes. It is so important. The electric dispersal barriers, and there are now two that the Army Corps has put into the sanitary canal in my district, and we have had blockage of the tributaries of the river so even by flooding they cannot get into the canal. We have oxygenation. I have been at fish kills where they have actually made the water dead to kill the fish.
One of the things that is now taking place is certainly the fishing for these fish further down the river, and they are now sending the fish to China where they are turning them into food over there.
But the bill that we are considering today will add the big head species of the Asian carp to the list of injurious species under the Lacey Act and prevent their sale or importation into the United States. This ban would not apply to the dead fish that I was just talking about--they are caught and sent to China as dead fish--and includes only the species of the invasive carp that the Federal wildlife managers found last June in Lake Calumet in Illinois.
With that, Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my good friend from Michigan, Senator Levin, who secured passage of this bill in the Senate and express my gratitude to all my colleagues from the Great Lakes States who have worked with us for many years to preserve our waters from the invasive species. This effort is not only about protecting our ecosystem, but also the billions in jobs and opportunities that our precious natural habitats and waterways provide to U.S. citizens every year. I urge my colleagues to support this bill.
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