WASHINGTON — Legislators are trying hard to find a way to keep Asian carp from spreading into the Upper Mississippi and Ohio river basins. Some have put the bipartisan Strategic Response to Asian Carp Invasion Act (H.R.358) on the table, in hopes that a restructuring of the powers that be will improve the decision-making process regarding control of the species and will benefit multiple groups of concerned citizens.
The invasive species, which includes bighead, silver, grass and black carp, competes with bass for food and alters the native food web. Silver carp, in particular, are also known for jumping out of the water, often causing injury to boaters.
U.S. Representatives Betty McCollum, D-Minn., and Mike Kelly, R-Pa., introduced H.R.358 in late January. Five U.S. Representatives from Minnesota — Michele Bachmann, Rick Nolan, Erik Paulsen, Collin Peterson and Tim Walz — also support the bill. Senators Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Pat Toomey. R-Pa., introduced counterpart legislation (S.3645) in the Senate.
The bill places the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in charge of coordinating a new federal multi-agency effort that includes the National Park Service, U.S. Geological Survey and Army Corps of Engineers. Agencies will provide high-level technical assistance to support state and local governments that are working to protect economies and ecosystems in the Upper Mississippi and Ohio River basins from Asian carp.
“I am pleased to see that Representatives McCollum and Kelly and others have taken a leadership role in proposing legislation that would facilitate a coordinated strategic federal effort to control Asian carp,” said Noreen Clough, B.A.S.S. national conservation director. “B.A.S.S. and bass anglers continue to be confronted by what could politely be called the demise of outstanding bass fishing waters by the phenomenal spread of these invasive fish.”
“The growing spread of Asian carp demands a coordinated, holistic response from the private sector, nonprofit organizations as well as federal, state and local governments,” said Congresswoman McCollum. “The Strategic Response to Asian Carp Invasion Act incorporates efforts from all participants so we can better protect our nation’s watersheds from this invasive species.”
The legislators from Minnesota, Ohio and Pennsylvania recognize the effect the invasive species has on their states’ waterways and economies.
“The Great Lakes region and the Ohio River basin are economic drivers shoring up Ohio’s multimillion-dollar fishing and recreation industries,” said Sen. Brown of Ohio. “While we focus on keeping the carp out of the Great Lakes in the Chicago region, we must also protect other pathways into the lakes. This bill will do just that.”
The House bill is currently in the Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans, and Insular Affairs, and the Senate version is being reviewed by the Committee on Environment and Public Works. Bassmaster.com will keep readers posted on the bill as it moves through Congress.