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Great Lakes Article:

Great Lakes protection bill passes Senate panel
Port Clinton News Herald
Published June 26th, 2004

WASHINGTON -- Legislation authored by U.S. Sen. George Voinovich R-Ohio, to help complete a preventative barrier in the Illinois River to keep Asian carp from reaching the Great Lakes, passed the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee this week.

The foreign species is a threat to the native fish population, ecosystem and boating community.

The legislation was included as an amendment to the Water Resources and Development Act which will now go the full Senate for consideration.

Voinovich is a member of the EPW Committee and is a member of its subcommittee which has jurisdiction over this issue. Ohio Senator Mike DeWine R-Ohio, co-sponsored the amendment, and also co-authored a letter with Voinovich to the administration supporting the project.

"This legislation will not only provide the funds to help complete this critical preventive barrier, but it will also send a clear message to the Great Lakes states that the federal government is committed to helping restore the Lakes," said Voinovich. "Without the barrier, there is a mere 50 miles separating Asian Carp from reaching the Great Lakes. These fish are a serious threat to the entire Great Lakes community, and this barrier will help guard against them."

Specifically, the legislation would help fund the completion of an electric barrier located in the Illinois River near Chicago which is preventing the carp from entering Lake Michigan.

According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the project will cost a total of $6.8 million. However, state law prevents the state of Illinois from spending more than $5 million on this project. This legislation would reimburse the state of Illinois for the $1.8 million needed for completion.

The three species of Asian carp -- black, bighead and silver -- threaten native fish by quickly consuming large quantities of phytoplankton, which is critical to the stability of the ecosystem. According to reports, the carp made their way north to the Illinois River after escaping from fish farms during massive flooding along the Mississippi River more than 10 years ago.

Asian carp can grow to an average of four feet and 60 pounds, and can consume up to 40 percent of their body weight in plankton per day.


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