With concern mounting about the invasive Asian carp, Illinois Senator Dick Durbin and Representative Judy Biggert led a bipartisan forum on the subject in Washington on Thursday.
The "carp summit," as it's been called, was a precursor to a formal meeting with the White House, scheduled for early February. Both of the meetings have been set to discuss strategies for keeping the carp out of the Great Lakes ecosystem.
Peter Hoekstra, a congressman from Michigan, told UPI that a wide range of solutions were discussed:
"Several ideas and bipartisan solutions were discussed to prevent the Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes," Hoekstra said. "There is no single arrow in the quiver. Solutions will need to be based upon managerial, chemical, engineering and structural components."
Hoekstra said wider application of fish poisoning, harvesting techniques, monitoring improvements and eco-separation were also discussed.
The meeting comes two weeks after the US Army Corps of Engineers announced that it found so-called environmental DNA of the Asian carp in Lake Michigan. This DNA suggests that the species is nearby, although no specimen have been found within 40 miles of the lake to date.
Asian carp are invasive fish species that grow quickly, reproduce in large numbers, and can quickly take over an ecosystem, the EPA warns. As such, many states in the Great Lakes region, including Wisconsin, Michigan and New York, are concerned that carp could devastate indigenous fish species in the Lakes, and derail the multi-billion-dollar sport and commercial fishing industry in the area.
But those at the carp summit were hoping to find other solutions. Rep. Biggert warned of the economic impact of shutting down the heavily trafficked canals, and not just for Illinois. "I think all of the states need to look at the numbers and see how many businesses rely on shipments that use the waterways from here to Louisiana and back," she said.
Sen. Durbin said that, as a result of the conference, he'll ask Congress to contribute an additional $20 million to help develop new techniques to fight the carp. He is also expected to attend the White House's carp summit, planned for some time next week.