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November 19, 2009

IJC urges action to protect the Great Lakes against Asian carp

In letters sent to the Governor of Illinois, the U.S Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Council on Environmental Quality, the International Joint Commission (IJC) expressed its concerns that Asian carp could invade the Great Lakes by way of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal. Asian carp have invaded the Mississippi River basin, overtaking many domestic species of fish, and the carp has been found less than a mile from an electric fish barrier in the canal. The IJC is concerned that the electric barrier could be breached by a single power outage, or that a heavy rain storm could cause flooding that would allow the carp to migrate into the canal from the Des Plaines River.

The IJC supports the Barrier Advisory Panel's recommendation to construct a physical separation between the Des Plaines River and the Chicago Sanitary Ship Canal. The IJC also supports action to close off the canal and Deep Run Creek in a manner that would permit storm water discharge while precluding the passage of Asian Carp. Further, a rapid response effort must be undertaken as soon as possible to push back the Asian carp and allow the Army Corps of Engineers to conduct scheduled maintenance of the electric barrier and complete the construction of a second electric barrier.

"We must stop Asian carp and other species before they use the Chicago Sanitary Canal to invade the entire Great Lakes system that is shared by Canada and the United States," stated Herb Gray, Canadian Section chair of the International Joint Commission.

"Invasive species such as Asian carp are the foremost threat to the biological integrity of the Great Lakes basin ecosystem. The impact of invasive species already in the system, from the sea lamprey to the zebra mussel, serve as harbingers of the economic and environmental costs to come if this crucial threat is not controlled" said Irene Brooks, U.S. Section chair of the International Joint Commission.

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. Among its responsibilities, the IJC assesses progress in the United States and Canada to restore and maintain the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the Great Lakes under the binational Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.

Related Links

IJC News Release, September 5, 2008: IJC urges action to protect the Great Lakes against Asian carp

Great lakes Water Quality Agreement Priorities 2007-09 Series: Work group Report on Binational Aquatic Invasive Species Rapid-Response Policy Framework

United States Environmental Protection Agency, Great Lakes Pollution and Toxics Reduction: Invasive Species


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Washington Frank Bevacqua (202) 736-9024

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