Island man skeptical of statements Asian carp has yet to reach Great Lakes

Tom Sasvari

The Recorder

SPRING BAY—A member of the water advisory committee of the Manitoulin Area Stewardship Committee (MASC) is very skeptical of statements made by United States officials that no Asian carp have reached the Great Lakes.

“In a word I’m very skeptical––I’ve read articles that have identified Asian carp in Lake Michigan, and with the water flowing out of Lake Michigan how have they not gone even further?” asked Mike Wilton. “I just don’t trust what they say any more.”

“To say that there are no Asian carp in the Great Lakes, you would have to drain the lakes to ensure they are not there,” said Mr. Wilton. “There isn’t sufficient evidence to prove what they are saying; they should have said they are hopeful the carp haven’t made it to the Great Lakes, but they certainly can’t prove it.”

As reported in the February 24, 2012 edition of the Toronto Star, US officials declared that Asian carp had not reached the Great Lakes and promised to spend $51 million on new strategies aimed at keeping the invasive fish out, such as a water gun to drive them back and a sex pheromone to lure males to their deaths.

But the plan by the White House Council on Environmental Quality didn’t fly with Great Lakes state and environmental groups that are demanding a permanent ecological separation of the Great Lakes from the Mississippi River watershed, where the carp have been found. They argue the carp will make their way up through man-made waterways near Chicago, and will decimate the lakes $7 billion fishery.

“I don’t think they want to do this (provide a permanent ecological separation of the Great Lakes from the Mississippi River Watershed), due to the amount of engineering,” said Mr. Wilton. “Personally, I think it’s too late, but that doesn’t mean we have to stop trying to prevent the Asian carp from getting through.”

As reported in the January 27, 2012 edition of the Recorder, in an attempt to keep the prevalence of Asian carp from spreading throughout the Great Lakes, including area waters, Great Lakes United has posted a petition lobbying for action to be taken by the US and Canadian governments to create barriers so Asian carp can’t get into Lake Michigan. The petition is being forwarded to the American Congress, calling on the government to make sure barriers are created so Asian carp can’t get into Lake Michigan.

Information provided by Mr. Wilton explains that the Great Lakes United coalition passed a resolution in support of Canadian input into US hydro separation studies, to aid efforts in preventing an Asian carp invasion into the Great Lakes.

The Asian carp are poised to invade the Great Lakes via US waterways and efforts are underway in the US to stop them. However, the Great Lakes are international waters, and the Asian carp are an international threat, a GLU release says.

If this fish invades the Great Lakes via US waterways, they will have gained access to Canadian waters of the Great Lakes, as well as direct access to Canadian tributaries and inland rivers. While Ontario and the federal government have provides some logistical assistance to control efforts in the Chicago Area Waterway System, Canadian citizens need to demand that the provincial and federal governments do more than take a wait and see approach, the GLU states.

“In early 2012, Great Lakes United, in collaboration with Ecojustice and Sierra Club-Ontario, will be delivering our coalition resolution in a petition signed by concerned Canadian citizens to the federal ministers of Natural Resources, Environment and Fisheries and Oceans, the Ontario Ministers of Natural Resources and the Environment, and the appropriate ministers of parliament,” the release continues. “The petition asks for public hearings to ensure that Canadian concerns and input regarding effective ways to address the threat of an Asian carp invasion are heard, and that input be recorded and transmitted to US agencies working on Asian carp prevention.”

To sign the petition, you can do so by going online at www.glu.org/asiancarppetition2011.