Protecting the Great Lakes from invasive species is like “3-D chess” with potentially the greatest challenge posed by Asian carp.
“This isn’t one of those places where we can be moderate,” said Jill Ryan, executive director of Freshwater Future. “If we’re moderate, they’re here (in the Lakes).”
Ryan and two other Great Lakes advocates described the threat posed by the invasive Asian carp during an appearance Tuesday morning on Cleveland i
deastream’s “Sound of Ideas” program. View the program by clicking here.
Federal leadership is needed to protect the Great Lakes from Asian carp, they indicated.
“The pest is approaching and many people feel we’re not getting the action that’s required to stop it,” said Jane Goodman, executive director of the Cuyahoga River Community Planning Organization.
The stakes are high: Asian carp are dangerous because they could out-compete native fish in the ecosystem of the Great Lakes. In several areas of the Mississippi where Asian carp have become established, they now make up 95 percent of the river biomass, advocates said.
If Asian carp become established in Lake Erie, they could decimate the productive and economically valuable fishery.
Restoration Funds Produce Results
Although Asian carp represent one of the emerging threats to the Great Lakes, the advocates underscored the significant progress that’s been made because of tougher federal legislation such as the Clean Water Act and the infusion of federal funds from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.
Tough decisions will be made in the next federal budget that could affect restoration funding. However, restoration funding creates jobs and boosts the local economy, said Lynn McClure, director of the Midwest regional office of the National Parks Conservation Association.
McClure pointed to the recent infusion of $4.5 million in restoration grants to partners in Ohio for projects related to Lake Erie.
“The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, plain and simple, is a revenue generator,” she said.
Great Lakes advocates are asking Barack Obama and Mitt Romney to sign the “Great Lakes Protection and Restoration Candidate Pledge” and commit to funding the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and take action to separate the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins to protect U.S. waters from invasive species like the Asian carp. Read the full pledge at: http://bit.ly/2012GLpledge