Recently, Michigan Republicans in Congress united behind legislation to protect the Great Lakes. As Co-Chair of the Great Lakes Task Force, Bill has worked with both Republicans and Democrats to strengthen the Great Lakes economy and preserve the Great Lakes ecosystem. The following column, written by Congressman Huizenga, addresses the Stop Asian Carp Now Act and was published by MLive.
As Michiganders, we have a fundamental understanding of the links between our state’s economic health and the environmental health of the Great Lakes. The Great Lakes region provides drinking water, jobs, nearly endless recreational opportunities and, of course, countless memories. Any change to the ecosystem could have a serious impact on the lakeshores and on communities across our state. Thus, it was with great alarm that we learned one of the most severe and harmful threats to the Great Lakes appears to be getting even closer.
Last Friday, we learned that a live Asian carp was caught within 10 miles of Lake Michigan. This is significant not only because of its proximity but also its distance beyond the electric barriers that were put in place to stop this invasive species from reaching the lake. While further study is needed to determine how this particular carp made it so far, its presence indicates the amount of time remaining to protect the Great Lakes is dwindling.
As a non-native species, the Asian carp lack natural predators in the Great Lakes region. This means that if they enter the ecosystem, their unchecked growth will devastate food chains as they expand into rivers, streams, and tributaries across our state. In addition to the negative environmental impacts, the spread of the carp would have severe economic consequences.
The invasive species would aggressively compete with commercial and sport fish for food — with disastrous effects on the $7 billion fishing industry. Similarly, recreational boating — which contributes $7.4 billion and 58,000 jobs to Michigan’s economy — would be at risk. Our state’s entire “Blue Economy” could be at risk if this devastating invasive species gains access to our waters.
The threat posed to the Great Lakes by Asian carp, both ecologically and economically, is clear. As policymakers, we must have the best information available in order to protect this great resource. That is why we are supporting H.R. 2983, the Stop Asian Carp Now Act. This legislation calls for the release of the Brandon Road Study by the Army Corps of Engineers — a plan to stop the carp seven days after the bill is enacted, which members of our delegation have requested for several months now. The Brandon Road Study will provide critical guidance on how best to prevent Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes.
We are calling on the Trump administration to make the Great Lakes a priority. It is our hope that the Corps of Engineers will release the Brandon Road Study voluntarily; if it does not, Congress will have to act because failing to do so will needlessly jeopardize the Great Lakes economy. We are committed to protecting the Great Lakes from invasive species such as Asian carp, and that process starts by releasing the Brandon Road Study.