Governor wants Asian carp out of Illinois
Posted in the Rock River Times (IL) on November 2, 2005
SPRINGFIELD—Illinois Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich sent a letter
to Illinois’ Congressional Delegation Oct. 19 urging them
to support a resolution that bans Asian carp—an invasive
species that threatens the Great Lakes.
Fish farmers in southern states, such as Arkansas and
Mississippi, import the Asian carp to eat parasites that
threaten their catfish. However, some of these carp have
escaped fish farms in the Mississippi River and are making
their way north through the Illinois river system to the
Great Lakes, where they will destroy the lakes’ ecosystems.
House Resolution 3049, the Asian Carp Prevention and Control
Act, would make it illegal for states to import Asian
“Illinois fishermen tell tales of 40-pound fish leaping
into their boats,” Blagojevich said. “They’re not fish
stories, they’re facts of the invasion of Asian carp,
already infesting some Illinois waterways. We need to
do everything we can to protect the Great Lakes from this
Asian carp pose a threat to native fish and aquatic ecosystems
because they consume much of the food chain. They eat
aquatic plants, compete for plankton with native fish,
and eat snails and clams. Black carp can live to at least
age 15 and grow to more than 5 feet and 150 pounds. They
reach maturity at 6 to 11 years of age, and then reproduce
Illinois Department of Natural Resources Director Joel
Brunsvold said: “We’ve already seen Asian carp escape
into Illinois waters and begin taking over the ecosystems.
It is much easier to keep Asian carp from entering the
Great Lakes than to try and get rid of them once they
do get in and begin damaging the habitat.”
Illinois has learned from the silver and the bighead
carp just how destructive Asian carp are to native ecosystems.
The silver and bighead carp originated in Illinois from
escapees from fish farms in Arkansas and Mississippi.
Once in the Mississippi River, these species successfully
reproduced and swam in huge numbers toward Illinois. Today,
silver and bighead carp comprise up to 75 percent or more
of the fish population in many areas of the Illinois River.
Blagojevich signed a bill this summer allowing the state
to regulate Asian carp imported to, and transported within,
the state of Illinois. But if other states are not under
the same regulations, the legally imported carp in Southern
states can travel through the river system and contaminate
Illinois waters, which is why it must be illegal for any
state to import Asian carp.
Blagojevich also wrote to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service (USFWS) requesting it rule in favor of banning
Asian carp. The USFWS has proposed a ban, but has not
yet made a final decision.
In addition to banning further importation of the fish,
Blagojevich is also asking Illinois representatives to
authorize and appropriate money to allow the U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers to reinforce, operate and maintain
essential barriers to keep Asian carp from entering the