Schuette critical of Obama's newest Asian carp plan; AG says it will leave economy at risk

By Jessica M. Karmasek | Jul 29, 2013

LANSING, Mich. (Legal Newsline) -- Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette says the Obama administration's latest efforts to stop Asian carp -- the behemoth fish that leap 10 feet into the air -- from entering the Great Lakes will leave the state's economy, and ecology, at risk.

Schuette, a Republican, made the comments last week in response to the administration's release of its 2013 Asian Carp Control Strategy Framework, an update to the comprehensive plan it created in 2010 to prevent the invasive fish species from populating the lakes.

"Playing Russian Roulette with stun guns and water cannons is simply too risky when it comes to protecting our $7 billion Great Lakes fishery," the attorney general said Wednesday.

"For every family in Michigan who takes summer fishing trips, to those who enjoy a peaceful boat ride or have a job dependent on Michigan's tourism trade, I simply am not willing to stand by and wait for Asian carp to invade Michigan waters. We must act right away to slam the door shut on the Mississippi River basin."

Asian carp, which can weigh up to 100 pounds, have been migrating up the Mississippi and Illinois rivers toward the Great Lakes for decades.

Bighead carp can grow to more than 100 pounds, and silver carp are known for leaping 10 feet out of the water -- a major danger to recreational boaters.

One biologist described them as "living missiles."

Many fear if the fish get into the lakes, they could decimate a $7 billion-a-year fishing industry by gobbling plankton, a key link in the food chain that supports prized species such as salmon and walleye.

Schuette contends that any plan that falls short of a full separation of the Mississippi River and Great Lakes basins leaves the state, and the entire Midwest, at risk to severe economic and ecological damage.

The attorney general argues that the Obama administration's newest strategy again fails to institute a "serious plan" to separate the lakes from Asian carp-infested waters in Illinois.

Instead, the plan again depends on "unproven stop-gap measures," such as water cannons and electrical barriers, he said.

"eDNA testing has repeatedly shown evidence of Asian carp activity moving beyond these barriers, proving the need to take more immediate action toward permanent ecological separation of the two basins before it is too late to close the door and protect the Great Lakes," Schuette said Wednesday.

Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to order the closure of pathways between the Mississippi River and Great Lakes basins.

Michigan, along with Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, petitioned the nation's high court for writ of certiorari.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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