WASHINGTON, D.C. – A budget agreement passed yesterday by the U.S. House of Representatives to fund the U.S. government for fiscal year 2020 includes several priorities for efforts to control, eradicate and stop invasive Asian carp. The budget agreement allocates funding to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for efforts to stop Asian carp across the country, from reducing their numbers in Tennessee and Kentucky to keeping them out of the Great Lakes.
“We applaud the foresight of congressional leaders who came together on this issue. Asian carp are wreaking havoc on our aquatic ecosystems — including many threatened and endangered species — while also making rivers and lakes unusable for recreation, destroying local economies,” said Michael Butler, CEO of Tennessee Wildlife Federation. “This type of far-reaching, proactive work is exactly what smart conservation requires.”
The budget agreement includes $25 million for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to fight Asian carp, of which $2.5 million must be allocated for contract fishing to remove invasive Asian carp from waters they already inhabit, such as in Tennessee and Kentucky. It includes $10.6 million for the U.S. Geological Survey to research ways to control and eradicate Asian carp, and $50,000 for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to start preconstruction engineering and design work on the Brandon Road Lock and Dam project — intended to block Asian carp from invading the Great Lakes while maintaining shipping in the Chicago Area Waterway System — as well as $13.9 million to complete an electric dispersal barrier in the waterway system.
“The fight against Asian carp needs to be waged on two fronts. One, we must prevent them from invading the Great Lakes. But equally important, we need to address the carp problem where it already exists,” said Robert Hirschfeld, water policy specialist for Prairie Rivers Network. “The Mississippi and Illinois Rivers have been overrun, causing declines in native fish populations. It's heartening to see the federal government devote significant resources to deal with carp in our rivers.”
Asian carp are a group of invasive fish including bighead, silver, black, and grass carp which damage native and sport fisheries, outcompeting native and sport fish for food. Silver carp also pose a danger to anglers and boaters, leaping out of the water when disturbed by noise. A study published in the journal Biological Invasions in November established empirical evidence that Asian carp caused a decline in native sport fish in the Upper Mississippi River system, and a University of Michigan study released in August predicted that bighead and silver carp would have abundant food in Lake Michigan if they were allowed to invade it.
“Invasive Asian carp are a national problem requiring a national solution,” said Marc Smith, policy director for the National Wildlife Federation. “This federal investment in the fight to stop Asian carp will help restore fisheries and save jobs in the fishing, outdoor recreation, and tourism industries from Arkansas to Minnesota.”
The U.S. House of Representatives passed the budget agreement yesterday and the Senate is expected to take it up this week, as it needs to be signed by President Trump by Friday to avoid a government shutdown.
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