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“Defending Our Great Lakes Act” Would Promote Collaborative Water Quality and Flood Mitigation Projects to Keep Asian Carp Out of the Great Lakes – Asian Carp Would Completely Destroy Native Fish Populations

Legislation Would Specifically Target Asian Carp at Illinois Dam, Which Could Become the Main Entry Point For Invasive Species


Schumer: We Must Stop This Invasive Species Before It Reaches Our Precious Great Lakes


Today, U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer announced he is an original co-sponsor of new legislation to help keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes. The Defending Our Great Lakes Act would ensure that more water quality and flood mitigation projects are implemented as part of Asian carp prevention efforts by ensuring collaboration between the Great Lakes Interagency Task Force (IATF) – a collection of 11 U.S. Cabinet and federal agency heads, led by the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – and state and local flood and water quality agencies. The legislation would also implement federal invasive species control measures at the Brandon Road Lock and Dam in Joliet, IL – which, due to its location south of the Chicago Area Waterway System (CAWS), serves as the single entryway for any species moving upstream toward the Great Lakes.

“The Great Lakes are a key driver of tourism and economic activity for many New York communities, and we must do all we can to ensure invasive species like the Asian carp, do not undermine the entire Great Lakes ecosystem. Asian carp threaten Lakes Erie and Ontario and many of the cities, towns and industries that rely on them,” said Schumer. “That’s why we need aggressive solutions to stop the influx of Asian carp and other invasive species. This bill would help protect the Great Lakes ecosystem as well as the local economy, and I’m proud to be an original cosponsor of this important legislation. We must make sure this invasive species does not destroy the countless benefits the Great Lakes provide to communities around the state.”

Schumer explained that the Defending Our Great Lakes Act gives the Army Corps of Engineers the authority to take action, both short- and long-term, to prevent the spread of invasive species. Under the act, the Army Corps will be required to lead federal efforts to prevent the spread of Asian carp and other invasive species in coordination with local, state, and regional officials, as well as in conjunction with local business and environmental communities. The Army Corps will be required to report to Congress within 18 months and each year and will be tasked with ensuring more water quality and flood mitigation projects are implemented as part of Asian carp prevention efforts in collaboration with the IATF and EPA.

Schumer has long advocated for measures to reduce Asian carp in the Great Lakes. Most recently, in July 2014, Schumer and more than a dozen Great Lakes senators sent a letter to John Goss, Director of the White House Council on Environmental Quality Asian Carp, expressing their continued commitment to practical, immediate solutions to the threat of Asian carp and other invasive species to the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basin. In their letter the Senators wrote, “While disagreements about prevention measures remain, the Asian carp threat persists, and urgent action is needed. The immediate path forward should include a set of short- and medium-term actions, which should be able to garner regional consensus more readily to strengthen protection for the Great Lakes…As the Asian Carp Director, we ask for your leadership to help guide a productive dialogue among all impacted stakeholders that includes a focus on practical, immediate solutions with broad support across all impacted stakeholders.”

Asian carp are large, prolific and consume vast amounts of food – weighing up to 100 pounds and ranging as long as four feet – disrupting the food chain that supports native fish. Their large size, ravenous appetites and rapid rate of reproduction pose a significant threat to New York’s ecosystem. This aggressive invasive species could destroy the Great Lakes fish populations, devastating the $7 billion recreational fishing industry, tourism industry and the general economic well-being of the entire region. 

The economy and the ecosystem of the entire Great Lakes region are at risk because of the imminent threat of the invasive Asian carp. Current efforts to control the spread of Asian carp include two electrical barriers around Chicago where the Mississippi River links to the Great Lakes.  However, these efforts have fallen short, as illustrated by evidence indicating that Asian carp may have migrated past the electrical barrier.  The DNA evidence found implies that the Asian carp may now be as close as 6 miles from Lake Michigan, 20 miles closer than previously thought.  The invasion of Asian carp into Lake Michigan would be significant, since at that point they will have the ability to migrate to all of the Great Lakes.