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Great Lakes Article:

Asian Carp: Lakes' delegation campaigns for ban
Congressional group fears ravenous fish

By Tom Henry
Toledo Blade
Published June 1, 2004


Nearly everyone in the Great Lakes region's congressional delegation has rejuvenated a 2002 effort to ban at least three of four Asian carp species.

Thirty-two members of Congress from the lakes region recently sent a joint letter to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, reaffirming their desire to have silver, bighead, and black carp listed as injurious species. "Preventing an invasion of Asian carp, a species with a voracious appetite, is critical to prevent backsliding from the work put into restoring and protecting the Great Lakes fisheries," the letter stated. Signers included U.S. Sens. Mike DeWine (R., Ohio), Carl Levin (D., Mich.), George Voinovich (R., Ohio), and Debbie Stabenow (D., Mich.), plus U.S. Reps. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) and John Dingell (D., Dearborn).

Such designations can take months or even years because of controversy. Some groups claim religious, cultural, and spiritual beliefs. Others question the notion of civil liberties being affected, questioning how one designation could establish a precedent or expand the boundaries of government intrusion.

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is considering a petition several members of Congress submitted in 2002. That petition did not mention the fourth type of Asian carp, the grass carp, perhaps because that fish exists in 43 states, Ken Burton, U.S. Fish & Wildlife spokesman, said.

He said the agency has "packages that are in various stages of winding their way through the process" for silver, bighead, and black carp. A decision on at least the silver and bighead carp is expected by the end of 2004.

Consideration of the grass carp was requested with the three others in a letter submitted in 2003 by Michael Donahue of the Ann Arbor-based Great Lakes Commission. But a species normally isn't considered unless it's formally named on a petition, Mr. Burton said.

The Lacey Act gives the Fish & Wildlife Service the power to ban imports of fish or wildlife listed as injurious species. It also forbids injurious species already in the United States from being moved from one state to another. It does not, however, prevent people who previously had brought them into the country from keeping what they have.

Designating Asian carp as injurious species, therefore, would allow fish hatchery owners to maintain ownership of any of those carp they had previously imported to eat pond scum.

 

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