Tonawanda News

June 1, 2012

Congress cracking down on Asian carp

Staff Reports
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — With a number of Democratic leaders putting their weight behind tactics to halt the spread of Asian Carp into local waterways, Rep. Louise Slaughter introduced legislation on Wednesday on the House floor that would take it one step further. 

The Fairport Democrat, who joined U.S. Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand in criticizing measures in place to keep Asian Carp from migrating into the Great Lakes through the Mississippi River, said the bill would protect not only the largest body of fresh water in the world, but also, the United States as a whole, from the looming threat of invasive species.

The bill, called the Invasive Fish and Wildlife Prevention Act of 2012, would give federal regulators the ability to respond to the threats proactively, Slaughter said, and would give federal agents the authority to stop the inter-state transfer of non-native plants and animals considered to be a threat to local ecosystems. 

“We don’t have to look too far upstream to see the threats posed by invasive species.” Slaughter said in a statement. “In Western New York we rely on the Great Lakes for fishing, shipping and recreation. The introduction of an invasive species like the Asian carp would be devastating to the lakes’ ecosystem and regional economy.”

Slaughter said while the federal government recently set aside $120 million to control Asian Carp, which can grow to be 100 pounds and four-feet long, it has spent tens of millions of dollars to eradicate other well-known species.

She also noted that regulators are slow to respond to pending threats through an outdated law that is more than 100 years old, leaving the federal government with limited oversight capability. The newly introduced bill would modernize the government approach to non-native species, Slaughter said, and introduce new federal permits that would cover a greater number of animals.

“If Congress had acted sooner to reform outdated rules and regulations, we would not be spending tens of millions of dollars a year to keep the carp out of the Great Lakes,” Slaughter said. “The Invasive Fish and Wildlife Prevention Act would prevent the import of harmful, non-native fish, wildlife, and wildlife diseases. It is an important step forward to better protect this country from the damage that comes from invasive species.”

Since 2005, Slaughter has been the Co-Chair of the bipartisan Great Lakes Task Force.