Today we remember the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Lake Erie and the incredible sacrifices that Northwestern Pennsylvanians made during the War of 1812. Just last week I was in Erie and got a chance to see the preparations taking place to commemorate this anniversary. All this year, Erie has held a celebration worthy of the valor of Oliver Hazard Perry and the 557 patriots who followed him in to battle.
Asian carp are very large fish that can weigh up to 100 pounds and are able to eat 40 percent of their body weight each day. The carp are about five feet long and have an abundant reproduction rate. Due to their voracious appetites and quickly increasing population, the carp pose a serious threat to the ecosystem of the Great Lakes.
In the 1970s, farmers imported Asian carp to clean up algae from ponds in the Deep South. Since this time, the invasive species has migrated north. Asian carp are now at the edge of the Great Lakes. The carp were able to enter the Great Lakes territory when the electric barrier fence between Lake Michigan and the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, which were installed to keep the fish contained to the canal, was shut down for maintenance. Because the electric barriers were not functioning and the carp would have the opportunity to enter into the Lake Michigan area, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources used in the canal a natural fish poison called rotenone, which was to make sure that any carp that got through were exterminated before irreversible damage was done.
Protecting the Great Lakes from harmful invasive species is important. For this reason, I am a co-sponsor of the Great Lakes Collaboration Implementation Act, which will protect Lake Erie and the other Great Lakes by prohibiting the importation of an invasive species and will prohibit federal agencies from promoting the introduction or spread of invasive species unless the benefits outweigh the harm. I believe that the Great Lakes are invaluable natural resources for Pennsylvania and the United States and should be protected.