February 28, 2012
Supreme Court Rejects Plans To Save Great Lakes From Asian Carp
The U.S. Supreme Court rejected a measure on Monday to spend $51 million in order to help prevent Asian carp from reaching the Great Lakes.
Officials from Michigan and four other states proposed a new strategy on Thursday that would have included setting up traps and nets in rivers, as well as testing scents that could help lure carp to where they could be captured.
The justices ruling was their fourth rejection of pleas by the states for interim steps, including closure of navigational locks in the Chicago waterways.
"It is our duty to aggressively fight to protect the Great Lakes from invasive species," Michigan Attorney Bill Schuette said in a press release. "So while I'm disappointed, we will continue forward on all fronts."
The carp migrated up the Mississippi River and its tributaries including the Illinois River, eating massive amounts of plankton along the way.
Under the worst-case scenarios, the carp could severely damage the $7 billion fishing industry in the Great Lakes.
The Asian carp are a distant relative of the goldfish, but consume large amounts of food and are able to grow up to as much as 100 pounds.
Carlie M. Wooley, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service deputy region director for the Midwest area, said adult populations of Asian carp are 55 miles from Lake Michigan, and reproducing colonies are just 150 miles from the lake.
The Obama administration also said it plans to intensify the crackdown on smuggling live Asian carp across state lines and the U.S.-Canadian border.
Thousands of pounds of Asian carp have been seized at the Ambassador Bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, in the past few years.
Chicago business interests say that separating the Mississippi River and surrounding waterways from the Great Lakes would disrupt commercial barge and pleasure boat traffic.
"Thankfully, the Supreme Court came down on the right side of this issue," Mark Biel, spokesman for a group called UnLock Our Jobs, told The Associated Press. "Suitable and effective steps are being taken to ensure we protect the lakes. Unfortunately, those who have used this issue for their own political agendas will continue to push for devastating actions that prevent the Great Lakes region from working together on a comprehensive solution."
The justices did not issue a comment after Thursday's ruling.
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