Here’s some reassuring news from the federal government, which has done such a great job of protecting our ecosystems from Asian carp, quagga mussels, round gobies, and other exotic species. In case you’re still a bit groggy from all of that holiday celebrating, that previous sentence is sarcasm.
Bowing to pressure from commercial shipping interests, the exotic pet industry, and fish farmers, the federal government has done an abysmal job, and it appears that it will keep on keeping on in that vein.
As part of its Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study, the Corps of Engineers is offering 90 proposals for keeping Asian carp and other invasives from migrating into and out of the Great Lakes. Under the present schedule, those options would be narrowed by 2015, with final recommendations made to Congress the following year.
Isn’t that great? In the meantime, carp, mussels, and dozens of other invaders will halt their spread and devastation as a gesture of good faith. That’s more sarcasm, folks.
In an editorial, the Toledo Blade recently said this:
“Government officials did little to stop the northerly migration of voracious Asian carp for decades. Evidence of their DNA turned up in 2009 beyond a series of electrical barriers near Chicago that had been set up to repel a smaller and less-threatening exotic species, round gobies. The barriers have since been modified to turn away carp as well.
“That's the plan, anyway. But if it doesn't work, the carp could devastate Lake Erie. More fish are spawned and caught in Lake Erie than in all of the other Great Lakes combined. Most of the activity is in the lake's western basin, near Toledo.
“The obvious solution, widely advocated by leading Great Lakes scientists, is a complete separation of the lakes and Mississippi River watersheds. But that course would be expensive and politically controversial, requiring one of the largest engineering feats in North American history and costing billions of dollars.
“Litigation over the future of Chicago-area shipping locks pitted Illinois against other Great Lakes states, and went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Obama Administration supported efforts to keep the locks open.
“Frustrated by the agonizingly slow movement of the anti-carp bureaucracy, U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D., Mich.) is sponsoring a measure that would require the Corps to pick up the pace. It deserves support.”
You can learn more about the Corps proposals and comment upon them (by Feb. 17) by going here. Probably would be best to avoid sarcasm in your comments.