Great Lakes charter boat companies are pleading with Congress to approve bills aimed at keeping Asian carp out of Lake Michigan, by permanently separating the lake from the Mississippi River watershed, where the invasive species is numerous.
Denny Grinold owns Fish N' Grin Charters in Michigan.
He says if carp get into the Great Lakes, his business will be worthless, and he will have nothing to pass on to his children and grandchildren.
"Invasive species such as Asian carp are serious threats to the Great Lakes," Grinold said in a press conference, "and I can tell you that an Asian carp invasion would destroy my fishing charter business. "
Grinold says the carp also threaten a pastime for thousands of people in the region who enjoy fishing. Asian carp are voracious eaters and can grow up to four feet in length and weigh up to 100 pounds. The fish can potentially dominate whole ecosystems, out-competing native fish, like perch, bass, and walleye, for food and resources.
Currently, there are three electrical barriers located on the Chicago River to try to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes. The fear is that small fish -– including Asian carp -– can become caught between barges and transported across the electric barriers.
“Asian carp jumped 66 miles last year [closer to Lake Michigan],” says Captain Guy Lopez, owner of Wild Dog Tackle and Good Guyde Service in Illinois. “We cannot watch our livelihood be edged out because Asian carp invade the Great Lakes. We need Congress to require the Army Corps to permanently separate Lake Michigan and the Mississippi River.”
Recently, Congress approved funding for alterations at Brandon Road Lock & Dam to safeguard against carp getting into the lake.The group calls the funding an important step, but points out the upgrades will take up to ten years to complete and won't be enough to keep Asian carp out of Lake Michigan.