Indiana AG wants more info on carp protection efforts

2012-06-11T16:30:00Z 2012-06-11T18:17:25Z Indiana AG wants more info on carp protection effortsBy Bowdeya Tweh bowdeya.tweh@nwi.com, (219) 933-3316 nwitimes.com

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller sent a letter to the head of the federal government's Asian carp response efforts to understand what steps are being taken to protect Indiana waterways from the invasive species.

In a letter sent Friday to John Goss, Zoeller said waterways such as the lower Wabash River already have self-sustaining populations of Asian carp. He said Asian carp pose a threat to native fish populations and have the potential to wreak havoc in the Great Lakes.

Asian carp are considered a threat to the Great Lakes because they can disrupt aquatic food chains, which are key to the recreational and commercial fishing industries. Asian carp, which include bighead carp and silver carp, were introduced to U.S. waters in the South in the 1970s.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers operates an electric barrier system near Chicago to prevent the spread of Asian carp, and a temporary 1,500-foot chain-link fence has been erected across Eagle Marsh to prevent the fish from spreading through the Maumee River into Lake Erie.

Current efforts in federally backed Asian carp control are concentrated on methods of detection and control and capture activities in Chicago area waterways, Zoeller said.

However, Zoeller admitted the costs of Asian carp control or removal efforts would be greater than any state could afford.

Zoeller said he plans to discuss the matter with officials from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. He said he would welcome the opportunity to speak to federal officials about their efforts, including whether eradication methods are available in Mississippi River Basin rivers and streams.

Goss is Asian carp director for the White House Council on Environmental Quality and chairman of the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee.   

In February 2010, Zoeller, representing Indiana, filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in support of the state of Michigan in its legal dispute with Illinois to close two Chicago area locks as a way to control Asian carp. The court declined to hear the dispute, and the issue remains unresolved.

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