There’s good news and bad news on the invasive species front.
Let’s start with the good, since that so rarely happens:
During a Great Lakes governors’ summit, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn voiced support for separating the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River basins as a way to keep Asian carp and other invasive species from migrating into the lakes.
“Ultimately, I think we have to separate the basins,” the governor said. “I really feel that is the ultimate solution. We have to do it.”
Quinn’s defection from the side that opposes separation, supported by commercial navigation interests, could be a tipping point toward a real solution that would save the $7.5 billion fishing industry --- unless the carp already have moved past the electric barriers.
Almost certainly bighead and silver will not show up immediately after they enter the Great Lakes. We won’t see one here and another there. Suddenly, they just will be there in substantial numbers --- as happened with snakeheads in the Potomac River.
It’s important to remember too that these two basins were connected by man, not nature. The connection was made so that Chicago’s sewage would flow downstream, instead of contaminating its Lake Michigan water supply. Commercial navigation on the waterway developed from there.
Meanwhile, the Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper says this in an editorial:
“Illinois political leaders, such as Quinn and former Sen. Barack Obama, have a long history of kowtowing to Chicago shipping industry cronies who oppose the surest strategy for preventing these gilled gluttons from laying waste a precious liquid asset that floats a $7.5 billion fishing industry and 800,000 jobs .
“It was Quinn who inked a deal with a Chinese meat processing plant and an Illinois fishing operation in 2010 under a "if you can't beat 'em, eat 'em" initiative that has sent more than 700 tons of the piscine palate pleasers to Asia.
“But hydrological separation remains the only true solution. Now that Quinn's on board, maybe President Obama could join him in putting the public good over political expediency.”
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The bad news is that zebra mussels have been found in northern Minnesota, in a lake that connects to Rainy River. That could allow them entrance into massive Lake of the Woods.
The CBC reports that an aquatic invasive species outreach liaison with the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters said if zebra mussels migrate to Lake of the Woods, their habit of straining out plankton could be disastrous to the sport fishery there.
“If you take out the energy in the bottom of the food chain, as you move up the food chain, there will be less energy for your walleye or lake trout,” Matt Smith said.