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Great Lakes Article:

Petri helps introduce bill for Asian carp barriers
Fond du Lac Reporter
Published January 25, 2007

WASHINGTON, DC — Serving as an original cosponsor, U.S. Rep. Tom Petri, R-Fond du Lac, joined U.S. Rep. Judy Biggert, R-Ill., in introducing legislation this month to authorize funding for the Asian carp barriers in the Chicago Ship and Sanitary Canal.

Asian carp, an invasive species, threatens the Great Lakes ecosystem by consuming large quantities of phytoplankton and competing with native fish for habitat.

Originally, Asian carp were introduced to the United States as a management tool for aqua culture farms and sewage treatment facilities. The carp have made their way north to the Illinois River after escaping from fish farms during massive flooding along the Mississippi River. 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.

"The carp have no natural predators in the Great Lakes, they threaten the native fish, and in turn, the economy of the Great Lakes region," Petri said. "This bill will move us toward a long-term solution and could potentially help us prevent a devastating situation."

H.R. 553, the Great Lakes Asian Carp Barrier Act, would authorize the Army Corps of Engineers to upgrade and complete the construction of a temporary and a permanent barrier across the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, a man-made waterway that provides a connection between Lake Michigan and the Mississippi River basin.

The temporary "demonstration" barrier in the canal was authorized in 1996 under the National Invasive Species Act to prevent non-native species like the Asian carp from moving between the Mississippi River and the Great Lakes. Since this barrier was designed to be temporary and is close to the end of its expected service life, a second permanent barrier is being constructed.

In June 2006, Petri helped to successfully secure $400,000 to operate the barriers that prevent invasive species from entering the Great Lakes. He is also an original cosponsor of the Asian Carp Prevention and Control Act, H.R. 83, which would prohibit the importation and interstate shipment of Asian carp.

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