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OFAH Applauds Action over Asian Carp

Biosecurity Welfare Carp +5 more

CANADA - The Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters has backed the state of Michigans legal bid to prevent spread of invading Asian carp species into Lake Michigan.

In the early 1990's, the invasive bighead and silver carp, known collectively as Asian carp, began advancing northward up the Mississippi River after having escaped aquaculture ponds in the southern United States.

They have since migrated into the Illinois and Missouri rivers, outcompeting native fish along the way.

An electric barrier in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal (CSSC) is one of the last barricades preventing the further invasion of these aggressive fish into Lake Michigan.

Should they make it to the lake, the carp will have pathways to the remaining Great Lakes, where they will most certainly have a catastrophic impact. This threat has prompted governments on both sides of the border to take legal action to close all gaps.

The State of Michigan has appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) to force the closure of those Chicago locks and waterways that could allow invading species to enter Lake Michigan, along with a number of additional measures. Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin and New York have filed documents to back Michigan's move.

The Province of Ontario has filed a legal brief with SCOTUS in support of the preliminary injunction to close the locks in the CSSC, a move the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (O.F.A.H.) strongly endorses.

"We cannot underestimate the devastation that the invasion of Asian carp will have on our fisheries," said Terry Quinney, OFAH Provincial Manager of Fish and Wildlife.

"Recreational fishing in Ontario is enjoyed by over 1.7 million anglers, who spend more than $2.5 billion annually. The commercial fishery of the Great Lakes is valued at $200 million. All of that hangs in the balance if Asian carp make it to Lake Michigan."

In early December, a crew from Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the MNR assisted in an intense international effort to prevent the carp from gaining access to Lake Michigan while the electric barrier was shut down for maintenance. The O.F.A.H., through the OFAH/MNR Invading Species Awareness Program, was the only nongovernmental organisation to participate on the Canadian team.

"History has repeatedly demonstrated that once invading species are established, they are virtually impossible to eradicate, so we should be pursuing every possible avenue now to keep these and future threats out of our Great Lakes," added Quinney.