Video – Feds can and should move faster on Asian carp study
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is facing intense pressure to pick up the pace of its study of how best to keep Asian carp and other invasive species from migrating between the Mississippi River and Great Lakes basins.
The Corps’ Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study, known as GLMRIS, is slated for completion in mid-2015. The study could become the federal government’s blueprint for breaking the artificial links between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins.
Unnatural links like the Chicago Waterway System have allowed zebra and quagga mussels that were carried into the Great Lakes in the ballast water tanks of transoceanic freighters to spread into the Mississippi River system and across much of the United States.
Asian carp that escaped fish farms in Arkansas and invaded the Mississippi River system are now on the brink of invading Lake Michigan via the Chicago Waterway System.
The discovery of Asian carp DNA, and one live carp, above an electric fish barrier that was supposed to keep the menacing fish out of Lake Michigan has politicians, conservation groups, anglers and boaters calling on the Corps to complete its study by mid-2012.
Corps officials claim the study is too complex to complete in 2012. Agency officials have said they are moving as fast as they can to expedite the GLMRIS study and doing everything possible to keep Asian carp from invading Lake Michigan.
But Marc Smith, a senior policy manager at National Wildlife Federation’s Great Lakes Regional Center, said he’s convinced the Corps could move faster on the GLMRIS study. He said the Corps has shown the ability to move very quickly to prevent the spread of invasive species, when properly motivated.
Perhaps the question isn’t whether the Corps has the capacity to finish its GLMRIS study before 2015. A more defining question might ask whether the Corps has the desire necessary to hasten the completion of this critically important study.