The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would be in charge of a federal multi-agency response to stop the spread of Asian Carp in the Upper Midwest under bipartisan legislation announced Friday by Minnesota Democratic Rep. Betty McCollum and Rep. Steven LaTourette (R-Ohio).
McCollum and the "Strategic Response to Asian Carp Invasion Act" (H.R. 6385) to make the federal government a more effective partner with state and local agencies working to slow the spread of Asian carp in the Mississippi and Ohio river basins.
"The arrival of Asian carp in the Upper Mississippi River basin represents a significant and immediate threat to Minnesota's way of life and our billion dollar outdoor recreation economy," McCollum said. "All levels of government, along with non-profit and private sector partners, have a role to play in slowing the spread of this invasive species and eventually eliminating it altogether.
"This legislation ensures the federal government fulfills its responsibility to be an engaged, effective and accountable partner with Minnesota and other states in our fight against Asian carp," she added.
"We cannot allow Asian Carp to wreak havoc on the Great Lakes and devastate the recreational boating and sport fishing economy," LaTourette said. "The federal government should play a key role to prevent and control the invasion of the prolifically breeding, ravenously hungry Asian Carp."
Several federal agencies now have a role in efforts to stop Asian carp in the Upper Mississippi and Ohio river basins, including the National Park Service, Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Geological Survey, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. But none of those agencies have been designated as the lead agency to coordinate and focus the federal response with state and local partners.
In a July roundtable McCollum convened at the University of Minnesota, Minnesota conservation leaders said the success of their efforts to confront the spread of Asian carp relies on improved leadership and support at the federal level.
The White House and House Appropriations Committee recognized the limitations of the current federal approach to Asian carp in these regions and worked with McCollum to craft a solution.
The "Strategic Response to Asian Carp Invasion Act" responds to the needs of Minnesota and 15 other states by placing the USF&WS in charge of coordinating a new federal multi-agency effort that includes the NPS, U.S. Geological Survey, and Corps of Engineers.
These agencies will provide high-level technical assistance, coordination, best practices, and other means of support to state and local governments that are working to protect economies and ecosystems in the Upper Mississippi and Ohio River basins from Asian carp.