The invasive species Asian carp were introduced to the United States in the late 20th century as a method to control algal blooms in wastewater treatment plants. Within a decade, they escaped and became a prominent invasive species in our waterways. Now, they are a threat to the Tennessee River.
Asian carp and native aquatic species are in direct competition with each other for food and habitat. They reproduce rapidly, disrupting ecosystems from the Great Lakes to Mississippi River branches.
In the event that Asian carp completely decimate a native fish species – what is the consequence for our American fisheries? The threat of Asian carp requires a comprehensive, collaborative plan between the federal government, elected officials, the Army Corps, and communities that want to protect their waterways and fishing industries.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have recognized the threat of Asian carp, but extinguishing an established population of Asian carp is difficult and expensive, if possible at all.
In 2011, the Stop Asian Carp Act was introduced to request that the Army Corps of Engineers study measures to stop the spread of the carp. The study requirements included researching the spread of carp from flooding, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure, waterway safety operations, and barge/recreational boat traffic.
In 2018, the study was released, outlining a plan to prevent Asian carp from moving out of the Mississippi River Basin and into the Great Lakes. Strategies to eradicate Asian carp in regions across the United States include complex noise, electric barriers, engineered channels, flushing locks, water jets, and mooring areas.
Now, it is up to Congress to acknowledge the growing threat of Asian carp by approving funding for this project. The price of ignoring this invasive species is exceptionally higher than the price of fixing the problem. We need a comprehensive, bipartisan approach to protect our fishing industries and waterways before it is too late.
That’s why in Congress, I would support legislation that:
- Increases awareness of the threat of Asian carp,
- Invests in early detection and deterrent technologies, and
- Expands research to understand the best prevention measures
The threat of Asian carp to our fisheries, Great Lakes, river systems, and tributaries is too high for continued inaction. From the Canadian border to East Tennessee, waterways are facing grave danger. Congress needs to protect our aquatic ecosystems today.