Canadian and American mayors call for urgent action against Asian carp

The invasive grass carp is a significant threat to the Great Lakes ecosystem. US funding of $1 million will help keep the fish out.

SHEBOYGAN – As part of the 16th annual conference of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative (GLSLCI) held earlier this month in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, US and Canadian mayors joined together in making an urgent call for action against Asian carp. The mayors signed the Mayors Declaration to Stop Asian Carp, highlighting the need to act quickly and decisively.

“They are saying they don’t want to have to wait until 2025, and that action should and needs to take place now. It’s a call to action,” stated Sophie Villeneuve, media contact for the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River Cities Initiative. “And they want the American congress to take action right now, and provide the funding to take action, now.”

“Since the first Asian carp appeared, the GLSLCI has taken this issue very seriously. These four fish species from Asia, called “Asian carp,” were introduced to clean up ponds in the southern US. Unfortunately, spills and flooding allowed them to enter the Mississippi and other rivers, where they have made their way to the edge of the Great Lakes, threatening the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River. Humankind has created this problem and now humankind needs to take action to rectify the situation,” said Michelle Morin-Doyle, chair of the GLSLCI board of directors and deputy mayor of Quebec City said in a release.

“The situation is particularly worrying at the Brandon Road Dam near Joliet, Illinois. A real choke point in the waterways leading to Lake Michigan, its protection is vital for the entire basin, the release notes. The GLSLCI was encouraged to hear of the recent signing of the US Army Corps of Engineers report recommending new Asian carp prevention measures at Brandon Road Dam. This action paves the way for US Congress to invest in the project. The Cities Initiative, by signing the Mayor’s Declaration to Stop Asian Carp, supports this report and at the same time calls on US Congress to invest in Brandon Road in our fight against Asian carp,” said Niagara Falls New York Mayor Paul Dyster.

Eating up to 40 percent of their weight in a single day, some Asian carp can weigh from 80-100 pounds. Reproducing at a frantic pace, they can quickly take control of an entire ecosystem. “Asian carp are knocking on our door and we must, by all means at our disposal prevent them from destroying the Great Lakes and eventually the St. Lawrence,” said Sheboygan Mayor Mike Vandersteen, GLSLCI vice-chair and host of the conference.

“The risk posed by Asian carp is real and the potential for damage is great, on both sides of the border,” said GLSLCI secretary-treasurer and St. Catherines Mayor Walter Sendzik. 

“This is why we are asking, in the Declaration signed by our members, to double the efforts currently being made to combat Asian carp,” said Ms. Morin-Doyle.

The GLSLCI is a bi-national coalition of over 80 US and Canadian mayors and municipal leaders, representing over 17 million people, working to protect and restore the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence.