Washington DC- Today U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) called on the administration to take swift action to prevent Asian carp spawning, which can occur in more varied environmental conditions than researchers previously believed. In a letter to the Department of the Interior’s Director of the Fish and Wildlife Service, Casey highlighted the destructive effects Asian carp could have on Lake Erie and Pennsylvania’s economy.
“Lake Erie, an invaluable natural resource, supports local businesses and industries in Pennsylvania and is threatened by the spread of Asian carp. In fact, Lake Erie’s coastal region supports 1.2 million Pennsylvanian jobs and is an integral part of Pennsylvania’s economy,” wrote Senator Casey. “We must address the threat posed by Asian carp in order to ensure that Pennsylvania’s economy remains strong and jobs are protected.”
Senator Casey is a leader in the effort to prevent Asian carp from reaching Lake Erie. He has pushed for a law to require the speedy creation of an action plan to block Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes through a number of rivers and tributaries, and has pushed the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency to crack down on the smuggling of live Asian carp into Canada from the United States. Senator Casey is an original co-sponsor of the Strategic Response to Asian Carp Invasion Act, which will enable the federal government to have a more effective partnership with state and local entities that are working to slow the spread of Asian carp.
The full text of Senator Casey’s letter is below:
Mr. Daniel Ashe
Fish and Wildlife Service
U.S. Department of Interior
Dear Mr. Ashe:
I am writing in regard to the alarming discovery of Asian carp spawning sites and conditions beyond what was previously believed. Researchers studying samples taken from the Wabash River in Indiana, as scientists reported at the end of April, discovered Asian carp eggs in locations where spawning was previously thought impossible due to temperature constraints. Prior reports confined the areas where fertilized eggs could survive to those with temperatures of 70 degrees and continuously flowing water to allow the eggs to float. Now Asian carp eggs have been studied spawning as late as September, contrary to previous study which indicated that their spawning season ended in July. Since the Wabash River is located near a tributary for Lake Erie, these spawning habits have the potential to affect the Great Lakes systems and the totality of its tributaries.
Lake Erie, an invaluable natural resource, supports local businesses and industries in Pennsylvania and is threatened by the spread of Asian carp. In fact, Lake Erie’s coastal region supports 1.2 million Pennsylvanian jobs and is an integral part of Pennsylvania’s economy. We must address the threat posed by Asian carp in order to ensure that Pennsylvania’s economy remains strong and jobs are protected. An estimated 1.5 million fish are caught each year in Lake Erie, its bays and tributaries. Pennsylvania’s fishing industry contributes $1.6 billion to the state’s economy annually.
The invasive Asian carp has the potential to push out native species and cause a decrease in the indigenous population. A decreased fish population would not only adversely affect fishermen, but also local businesses that sell and serve the fish. Perch, for example, is a mainstay on local restaurant menus. Further, the presence of Asian carp in Lake Erie would discourage tourism, a vital component of the local economy. Four million people vacation at Presque Isle State Park each year, contributing over $67 million into the economy. Activities, including walleye sport-fishing, generate big dollars. The fishing and tourism industries are major employers that rely on Lake Erie.
While the government has taken some action to help stop the movement of Asian carp from certain tributaries into the Great Lakes, a stronger effort must be made to stop the Asian Carp from entering other tributaries. Lake Erie is a vital asset for Pennsylvania, supporting both the economy and culture of Northwestern Pennsylvania. We must work as hard as possible to prevent the Asian carp from causing irreparable damage to the region.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service must strengthen its efforts to address the significant threat of the Asian carp. I am committed to protecting Lake Erie and ensuring it remains a valuable resource for future generations. Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter. I look forward to continue working with you.
Robert P. Casey Jr.
United States Senator