The Asian carp emergency is not an overblown issue. The threat facing the Great Lakes is very real.
History has shown that the voracious, highly adaptive fish will eat everything in sight when given the chance. The Asian carp are banging on Lake Michigan’s door, and unless the U.S. Supreme Court rules tomorrow to close the locks in the Chicago River, the Asian carp will break the door down and burn the Great Lakes fishing industry to the ground.
Led by Michigan, six Great Lakes states, including Minnesota, have sued Illinois, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago to close the locks in order to prevent disaster. But Illinois refused, and unfortunately, President Obama sided with his home state. The President has been a Great Lakes supporter for many years, but on this issue, he is choosing industry over the Lakes.
The shipping industry cried foul the minute the suit was filed saying closure of the locks will hurt their $30 million business in the Greater Chicago area. This seems like a small hiccup compared to the $7 billion Great Lakes sport and commercial fishing industry that will be decimated if the Asian carp enter the Lakes.
And the “Land of 10,000 Lakes” has every reason to be concerned. Lake Superior — the largest and cleanest of the Great Lakes — supports a large, healthy fishing industry. If the carp enter the fresh water system, they will eventually find their way into Lake Superior tributaries and our beloved Minnesota lakes. The economic damage, not to mention the irreparable environmental harm, of a collapsed Great Lakes fishing industry will be severe for our state and the region.
The Supreme Court must rule in the best interests of the Great Lakes and the tens of millions of Americans and Minnesotans who rely on them to close the locks while a better solution is hatched to stop the Asian carp.
Allowing them to simply enter the Great Lakes is a devastating option.