Asian carp present a “clear and present danger”
LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette today announced he will renew
efforts to protect Michigan’s environment and economy by continuing Michigan’s
lawsuit aimed at stopping the march of Asian carp into the Great Lakes.
Schuette was joined by Gov. Rick Snyder’s Office of the Great Lakes Director
Patty Birkholz and the Michigan United Conservation Clubs.
“Standing by and letting Asian carp invade the Great Lakes would be an
unprecedented ecological and economic disaster,” said Schuette. “Asian carp
present a clear and present danger to the Great Lakes.”
Schuette met with leaders of Michigan’s environmental and sportsmen’s
communities this week to form a united front in the fight to block Asian carp.
These groups included MUCC, Trout Unlimited, Michigan Steelhead and Salmon
Fishermen’s Association, National Wildlife Federation, Tip of the Mitt Watershed
Council, Nature Conservancy, and the Natural Resources Defense Council.
“The imminent invasion by Asian carp through the Chicago area waterways is one
of the most significant threats ever to the Great Lakes,” said Patty Birkholz,
the Director of Gov. Rick Snyder’s Office of the Great Lakes. “As a state, we
must join with others and take all necessary actions to stop the invasion. The
Office of the Great Lakes and others in the Department of Natural Resources and
Environment stand ready to help any way possible.”
“Asian Carp prevention is of critical importance to the ecology and economy of
the Great Lakes,” said Dr. Bryan Burroughs, Executive Director, Michigan Trout
Unlimited. “Unfortunately, it appears that it is going to take much work to
make the clear solutions happen. Fortunately, we have an Attorney General that
remains committed to doing everything within the judicial branch to continue
moving us to a solution. We are grateful for Mr. Schuette’s commitment to this
“The sportsmen and women of Michigan and the Great Lakes region deserve better
than the Army Corps of Engineers’ lackluster efforts to stop Asian carp from
entering the Great Lakes,” said Erin McDonough, MUCC Executive Director. “We
expect our federal and state leaders to take immediate, aggressive actions that
will preserve our sportfishing heritage and $7 billion Great Lakes sportfishery.
MUCC applauds Attorney General Schuette’s commitment to live up to this
expectation by continuing Michigan’s legal front to protect the Great Lakes and
our outdoor heritage.”
“Asian carp pose an extreme threat to the Great Lakes and our economy. If these
monster invasive fish colonize the Great Lakes, the damage will be devastating,”
said Andy Buchsbaum, Regional Executive director of the National Wildlife
Federation’s Great Lakes Regional Center. “But so far, the response of the
federal government has been too slow, particularly in pursuing an effective
permanent barrier that will once and for all keep the invasive carp out of the
lakes. For that reason, National Wildlife Federation supports the efforts of
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette to spur the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
to install a permanent barrier to stop the carp.”
Schuette’s suit calls for both long-term and immediate actions by the U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater
* Schuette is asking the Court to force the Army Corps of Engineers to
shorten their planning to create a permanent ecological barrier between the
Mississippi and Great Lakes from five years to 18 months. This is vital to
stopping not only the flow of invasive species into the Great Lakes, but to stop
their movement down into the Mississippi basin.
* While the study is being completed, Schuette is asking for:
o Increased activity in a number of areas to stop the Asian carps’
o Operating locks in a way that limits the movement of the fish;
o Installing other interim physical barriers to fish passage;
o Increased monitoring for evidence of the fish beyond current electrical
barriers using the best available techniques, including environmental DNA (eDNA)
o Targeted poisoning and netting in Chicago-area waterways.
Schuette noted that the eDNA technology employed by the U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers to detect the presence of Asian carp beyond barriers in the Chicago
area was validated earlier this month by a paper published in the peer-reviewed
scientific journal, Conservation Letters, published by the Society for
Conservation Biology. It is this information that has played a key role
Michigan’s case before the U.S. District Court for Northern Illinois in Chicago.
Based upon his expertise in invasive species and the results of eDNA testing in
Chicago waterways, independent expert witness Dr. David Lodge of the University
of Notre Dame has testified that the threat of an Asian carp invasion is real.
In fact, Dr. Lodge testified, “there is a risk, a very imminent risk of
invasion,” later adding that such “invasions are often irreversible.”
The repeated discovery of Asian carp eDNA beyond electrical barriers in Chicago,
in addition to the discovery of a live carp beyond the barrier, brought together
a coalition of five Great Lakes states in the suit, with Michigan being joined
by Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ohio and Pennsylvania on July 19, 2010.
The most recent district court action on the case occurred on January 7, 2011 in
which the Court considered plans to schedule the ongoing suit. In addition,
Michigan has filed an appeal of a December 2, 2010 ruling that denied Michigan’s
motion for a preliminary injunction that would put immediate remedies in place,
such as closing locks and increasing monitoring, as the underlying case goes
forward. Michigan’s brief supporting its request for the preliminary injunction
is due to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit by January 26, 2011.
Renewed Congressional action is another important avenue to address the Great
Lakes states’ concerns. The CARP Act and the Permanent Prevention of Asian Carp
Act were both sponsored by U.S Representative Dave Camp (R-MI) in the 111th
Congress. The legislation mirrored Michigan’s motion for preliminary
injunction, calling for immediate actions to block the passage of Asian carp
into the Great Lakes and requiring the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to expedite
a study to determine the best way to permanently separate the Mississippi River
Basin from Lake Michigan.