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Great Lakes Article:

McHugh Targets Invasive Species
Posted on on June 7, 2005

Following is a press release from Rep. John McHugh: McHugh Joins Fight Against Aquatic Invasive Species

WASHINGTON, D.C. - In an ongoing effort to protect the Great Lakes and other U.S. waterways from an onslaught of non-native aquatic species, Rep. John M. McHugh (R-NY) is again supporting a pair of bills recently introduced in the House. The bills are designed to impose stricter standards than those that currently exist while also boosting research funding to help identify additional measures that could combat the problem.

"Aquatic invasive species are destroying the environment, damaging fisheries, and costing American taxpayers billions of dollars annually," McHugh said. "We simply cannot afford to risk the future viability of our water resources in New York and nationwide, which is exactly what we are doing by not taking action."

McHugh has also signed onto a number of letters to appropriators urging funding for a second electronic dispersal barrier in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal to protect the Great Lakes from the continued migration of Asian carp. The Army Corps of Engineers has estimated that such a barrier would be successful in stopping 99 percent of the fish population from traveling between the Mississippi River and the Great Lakes, preventing problems such as Asian carp migration from arising.

Asian carp and other non-native species are tremendous threats to the natural ecosystems they invade. The large size and rapid rate of reproduction of Asian carp, in particular, make them a threat to the ecosystem of the Great Lakes. Similarly, the non-native, parasitic sea lamprey is posing a great threat to Lake Champlain, where infestation of this type of fish has decimated the lake's historically significant lake trout and landlocked salmon populations. The Great Lakes and Lake Champlain have both suffered dramatic losses of many types of fish due to invasive species, resulting in a devastating impact on both the fishing industry and recreational fishing.

"The non-native species that invade our waters are one of the greatest threats facing the health and viability of our region's lakes and waterways," said McHugh. "By taking preventative, preemptive measures and imposing stricter standards, we will save money, jobs, aquatic wildlife, and move a step closer to restoration of the Great Lakes."

The National Aquatic Invasive Species Act takes a comprehensive approach to preventing and controlling invasive species. The bill makes ballast water management mandatory for all commercial vessels operating in U.S. waters and requires screening of planned importations of live aquatic organisms not previously bought and sold in the United States. A national monitoring network to detect new introductions, a rapid response fund, and state and regional grants are also included in the Act.

The Aquatic Invasive Species Research Act would authorize $180 million over the next five years for extensive research aimed at preventing, controlling, and eradicating aquatic invasive species.

"Beyond the economic impact, the ecological costs of invasive species cannot be quantified," added McHugh. "In fact, aquatic invasive species are now only second to habitat loss when it comes to the most serious threats facing endangered water life."

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