May 3, 2006
Emergency action needed to protect Great Lakes from Asian carp
IJC supports emergency funding to operate the carp barrier
The International Joint Commission of Canada and the United States (IJC) today urged the U.S. Congress to approve emergency funding to keep the original, demonstration dispersal barrier (Barrier 1) for Asian carp in operation until the new, permanent barrier (Barrier 2) is completed. Current plans are for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to turn off the power to Barrier 1 on May 8 when Barrier 2 is turned on. However, Barrier 2 is only half-finished so the level of protection to the Great Lakes will fall short of what was promised, putting the health of the ecosystem at risk.
"Providing maximum protection to the Great Lakes from a potential Asian carp invasion is clearly an emergency that demands immediate action," said Dennis Schornack, American Chair of the IJC. "We cannot settle for half measures that put the Great Lakes and a $4.5 billion fishery at risk."
"Our governments are forced to spend millions of dollars annually to combat the sea lamprey infestation in the Great Lakes. Asian carp have the potential to be as destructive as or worse than sea lampreys," said the Rt. Honorable Herb Gray, Canadian Chair of the IJC.
The proposed emergency funding has bipartisan support and is also backed by a wide range of organizations, including the Great Lakes Fishery Commission and the Great Lakes Sport Fishing Council.
The IJC has been a strong and longtime supporter of the carp barrier and commended both the U.S. government and the state of Illinois for their commitment two years ago to fully fund construction of Barrier 2. This permanent barrier was designed to have two electric arrays to provide a second, redundant level of protection for the Great Lakes. The second array also provides critical backup in case the other array malfunctions or is turned off for maintenance.
The Commission published a special report, Then and Now: Aquatic Alien Invasive Species, in 2004. It is available online at http://www.ijc.org/php/publications/pdf/ID1562.pdf and in print.
The International Joint Commission prevents and resolves disputes between the United States of America and Canada under the 1909 Boundary Waters Treaty and pursues the common good of both countries as an independent and objective advisor to the two governments.