Editorial: Asian carp ban will protect
Published November 7, 2005
Years ago, operators of fish farms in the South brought
in black Asian carp to control snails and other parasites
on their farms.
But some of the fish have escaped the fish farms and made
their way up the Mississippi River. They are literally
at the door to the Great Lakes, where the fear is that
the fish would devastate the lakes' ecosystems.
Three years ago, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed
banning the importation of black Asian carp, for this
reason among others.
However, the federal agency hasn't acted on its proposal
and the Great Lakes remain threatened. The only thing
standing between the fish — which can grow up to 100 pounds
or larger — is an electronic fence near Chicago that is
designed to deliver a non-lethal jolt of electricity,
thereby preventing the from getting into Lake Michigan.
But funding for a modernized and improved barrier has
had a tough time getting through Congress.
Rep. Mark Green, a Republican from Wisconsin, has proposed
legislation that would ban the import of black Asian Carp.
He was not overstating the potential harm when he said,
"The Asian carp could devastate the Great Lakes'
multi-billion dollar fishing industry and Wisconsin's
"We have an obligation to stop this onslaught while
Green and Great Lakes lawmakers took the Bush administration
to task last week for not acting on the import ban. What
they got in return was a call for more study.
Everett Wilson, deputy assistant director for fisheries
and habitat conservation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service, said the agency must consider the economic impact
of a ban on southern fish farmers.
But the federal agency had three years to study the problem
from the time it raised the possibility of a ban in 2002,
and Wilson told the Congressmen that the agency couldn't
move any faster.
But three years, even in the federal bureaucracy, is a
There is one idea out there that would only allow the
importing of sterile carp, thus preventing the population
from growing. But that does nothing to address the problem
of fish escaping into the Mississippi.
There is economic benefit to the fish farmers by being
able to control parasites.
But there also is the multi-billion dollar commercial
and recreational fishing industry in the Great Lakes that
must be protected.
Wilson and others in the Fish and Wildlife Service had
few answers to satisfy Great Lakes lawmakers last week,
apparently leaving the issue unresolved.
Asian carp is among several invasive species that pose
a threat to the Great Lakes fishery, but this is one that
can be easily controlled.
Green and other congressmen from Wisconsin and the Great
Lakes states must push hard for the ban on importing them.