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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Sens. Toomey and Brown Introduce Bill to Protect Ohio River Basin from Asian Carp

Sens. Toomey and Brown Introduce Bill
to Protect Ohio River Basin from Asian Carp
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) yesterday introduced a bipartisan bill to help prevent the invasion of Asian carp into the Ohio River basin.
Although several federal agencies have been combating Asian carp, none have been designated as the lead agency to coordinate the federal response with state and local partners in the Ohio and Upper Mississippi River basins.
The Strategic Response to Asian Carp Invasion Act would allow the federal government to build a more effective partnership with state and local entities fighting to end the spread of Asian carp. This bill would place the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in charge of coordinating a new federal multi-agency effort, which would include the National Park Service, U.S. Geological Survey, and Army Corps of Engineers. This multi-agency effort would include providing technical assistance, best practices, and other support to state and local governments working to stop the spread of the Asian carp.
“Southwestern Pennsylvania’s iconic three rivers – the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio – are vital for both commerce and recreation. The spread of Asian carp in the Ohio River threatens this, and the federal government must act as a cooperative partner with state and local governments to stop this invasive species and protect the Ohio River basin’s ecosystem and economy. The Strategic Response to Asian Carp Invasion Act will help do just that, and I urge my colleagues to join us in defending the Ohio River basin against this invasive species,” Sen. Toomey said.    
“The continued movement of Asian carp up the Ohio River could grind to a halt Ohio’s multi-million dollar fishing and boating industries,” Sen. Brown said. “The Ohio River basin remains dangerously vulnerable to an Asian carp invasion. The Strategic Response to Asian Carp Invasion Act is a bipartisan bill that would ensure a definitive plan to control and prevent Asian carp from entering streams and rivers in our state. We must move aggressively and quickly to protect our waterways.”
Sen. Toomey sent a letter to Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission Executive Director John Arway in October, asking him to identify ways the federal government can work with states to combat the spread of Asian carp in the Ohio River. The full letter is available here.
Executive Director Arway thanked the senators for this bipartisan bill.
“The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission appreciates and applauds Sen. Toomey’s leadership in addressing the Asian carp invasion front on the Ohio River. Counties in Pennsylvania’s portion of the Great Lakes and Ohio River watersheds account for more than one-third of all fishing licenses and boat registrations sold in the commonwealth. As an Ohio River and Great Lakes state, we see the bill as complementary to efforts to keep Asian carp from entering Lake Erie by attacking the problem further downstream before the destructive fish get closer to potential pathways between the Ohio River and Great Lakes watersheds,” Executive Director Arway said.
Environmental and waterway organizations praised this effort to protect our waterways from this invasive species.
“We must preserve the rich resources of Pennsylvania, and we thank and support Sen. Toomey in this legislative effort to protect what belongs to the citizens and is in the public interest. Asian carp must be stopped before they decimate the biology of this great part of our state,” said R. John Dawes, executive director of the Foundation for Pennsylvania Watersheds.
“Asian carp infiltration up the Ohio River poses a serious threat to the aquatic life in some of our most invaluable waterways in Western Pennsylvania. Any efforts to more effectively combat these invasive species are very welcome and badly needed,” said Charles Bier, senior director of conservation science at the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.
“Pennsylvania Sea Grant applauds this important effort, and supports increased coordination among state and federal agencies to protect our waters from the spread of Asian carp.  It is essential that states, beyond just those in the Great Lakes basin, receive the support and resources needed to battle this destructive invader. Without a well-coordinated approach, Asian carp, which can act like giant aquatic vacuum cleaners, threaten to transform the food web in our rivers, impacting both environmental and economic value, and potentially wiping out our most valuable native species,” said Sara Grisé, coastal outreach specialist for Pennsylvania Sea Grant.

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