July 11, 2002

Asian carp threaten Great Lakes warns IJC

Immediate action must be taken by the governments of the United States and Canada to prevent Asian carp from invading the Great Lakes in the near future, stated the International Joint Commission (IJC) in a letter to the governments of the United States and Canada, released today. Scientists caution that failure to prevent the invasion of Asian carp may result in damage to the Great Lakes ecosystem far exceeding those brought about by the previous invasions of the sea lamprey and the zebra mussel, according to the IJC.

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Recent evidence indicates that Asian carp, a prolific non-indigenous aquatic nuisance species, may now be within 25 miles of Lake Michigan – putting the entire Great Lakes basin ecosystem at near-term risk of invasion. Asian carp have moved up through the Mississippi River system, and now found in the Illinois River and the Chicago Ship and Sanitary Canal connected to the Great Lakes near Chicago, Illinois. It is believed that, based upon their current rate of dispersal, Asian carp could reach Lake Michigan this year.

In its letter, the IJC calls on the U.S. Government to take action to stop Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes by:

  • continuing operation of the current electrical barrier in the Chicago River; and
  • installing a second, more permanent barrier.

The IJC also calls on the U.S. and Canadian governments to:

  • educate the public about the threat of Asian carp to the Great Lakes ecosystem;
  • investigate other chemical and physical environmentally sound alternatives to prevent the movement of aquatic nuisance species to and from the Great Lakes; and
  • consider implementing regulatory controls to prevent transfer of aquatic nuisance species via other pathways such as the food and bait fish industries and aquaculture.
The IJC will hold a telephone media briefing at 11 a.m. (EDT) on July 11, 2002. To participate, dial 1-800-589-4298, and enter confirmation number 712310.

The IJC is a binational organization established by the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909 to help Canada and the United States prevent and resolve disputes over use of waters along their common boundary. Under the 1978 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, IJC reports on progress by the two countries to restore and maintain the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the waters of the Great Lakes basin ecosystem. For more information, visit the IJC’s website

Soo Han
IJC Washington
(202) 736-9023
Jim Houston
IJC Ottawa
(613) 995-0230

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