Stop the Asian Carp Hysteria

Stop the Asian Carp Hysteria

Legislation was recently introduced in the House of Representatives that would devastate the Great Lakes economy, jeopardizing businesses and thousands of jobs in the economically strapped region. Michigan Representative Dave Camp’s CARP Act (H.R. 4472) would immediately shut down Chicago-area locks in order to prevent the invasive Asian carp from reaching the Great Lakes. Preventing the spread of invasive species is a serious environmental challenge that demands a coordinated, science-based solution. Knee-jerk actions like the CARP Act only serve to add to the hysteria without any guarantee that the carp’s spread will be stopped.

It’s time to stop the Asian carp hysteria and craft an effective anti-carp plan that fights the fish without killing American jobs. The Administration is working with states and other stakeholders to develop a coordinated approach to prevent the spread of Asian carp and invasive species nationwide. That process offers the best way to ensure an effective, science-based solution that does not have unintended and disastrous consequences on the Great Lakes-area economy.

The regional economy would be devastated if the Chicago-area locks were closed. Millions of tons of critical commodities, such as coal for utilities, petroleum for heating homes and fueling vehicles and airplanes, and road salt, currently move through the Chicago-area locks, and thousands of American jobs depend on regional waterborne commerce. Closing the locks will also strike a blow to regional air quality because commodities will be shifted onto trucks and rail, which are much less fuel-efficient than barge transportation.

Most importantly, this legislation would harm the economy and environment without any reassurance that the Asian carp would be stopped. The science simply does not exist to prove that shutting down the locks will prevent the Asian carp from reaching the Great Lakes. The federal government has acknowledged that the locks are not waterproof and could allow small fish and eggs to travel through closed lock gates, and that there are other outlets through which the fish can reach the Great Lakes. Furthermore, the Administration has admitted that the eDNA test indicating carp presence in the Great Lakes only shows where the carp may be; until a live fish is caught, it is impossible to tell if the test accurately captured the presence of a live Asian carp. Finally, the U.S. Geological Survey has documented that Asian carp have existed in Lake Erie for more than 15 years and have not become established, proof that the current hysteria is unwarranted.

The American Waterways Operators is the national trade association for the tugboat, towboat and barge industry.

Waterways Council, Inc. is the national public policy organization advocating a modern and well-maintained national system of ports and inland waterways.