Supreme Court Decision Underscores Need to Close Invasive Species Superhighway

Court decision fails to halt advance of Asian carp, other invasive species

04-26-2010 // Jordan Lubetkin

ANN ARBOR, MICH. (April 26, 2010)—The United States Supreme Court today refused to take up a case to permanently separate the Great Lakes from the Mississippi River to prevent the movement of harmful aquatic invasive species such as the Asian carp across the country.

The court gave no explanation about why it would not hear the case, brought by the state attorneys general of Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ohio and New York.

“The court’s refusal to hear the case only underscores the need for the state and federal agencies to take action to shut down this invasive species superhighway that threatens people, businesses, communities and wildlife in the Great Lakes and across the nation,” said Marc Smith, policy manager for the National Wildlife Federation’s Great Lakes Regional Center. “The nation has an opportunity to put forward a solution to this crisis that creates jobs, facilitates the movement of commerce, protects communities and helps safeguard the largest freshwater resource in the world.”

The states asked the court to sever the artificial connection between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River in light of DNA evidence suggesting that the invasive Asian carp - specifically the silver and bighead carp species - had breached an electric fence and could be in Lake Michigan.

The two fish species — imported by commercial catfish farms in the southern U.S. in the 1970s to control algae and increase fish production — escaped the fish farms in the 1980s and have since migrated up the Mississippi and Illinois rivers and threaten to enter the Great Lakes through the series of manmade canals in and near Chicago.

Asian carp pose a threat to people and native fish.

Asian carp can weigh up to 110 pounds for bighead carp and 60 pounds for silver carp. Boaters have been injured by silver carp because the fish is easily startled and hurls itself out of the water and into or over boats in response to boat motors. The non-native carp also gobble up food that other fish depend on. In some stretched of the Mississippi and Illinois rivers, Asian carp make up more than 90 percent of fish species.

The restoration of the Great Lakes, and all of our nation’s great waters, hinge on tackling the urgent threat that invasive species like the Asian carp pose to people, communities, businesses and wildlife,” said NWF’s Jeff Skelding, campaign director for the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition. “We have solutions. It is time to use them.”

04-26-2010 Supreme Court Decision Underscores Need to Close Invasive Species Superhighway

04-26-2010 Court Decision on Asian Carp Threatens Great Lakes and Regional Economy


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