Sen. Sherrod Brown wants states and the federal government to coordinate their efforts to prevent an invasion of Asian carp in the upper the Ohio River basin.
Brown held a conference call with reporters on Wednesday to discuss the bipartisan legislation introduced late last year. The Strategic Response to Asian Carp Invasion Act, co-sponsored by Pat Toomey, R-Pa., would give the federal government a more effective partnership between the state and local entities charged with the task of turning back the invasive species’ progression into the Ohio basin.
The carp, which are already in the Mississippi, Missouri and Illinois rivers, can grow to 100 pounds or more each. They endanger the sport fishing industry in rivers and lakes where they thrive. Brown said Wednesday that there is evidence the species has already compromised several locks on the lower Ohio River. He said completely closing the 19 lock dams on the river is not a practical solution because it would bring an end to commercial shipping on the waterway.
The legislation would put the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in charge of coordinating other federal and state agencies with a stake in the issue. That would include the National Park Service, U.S. Geological Survey, Army Corps of Engineers and, in Ohio, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
The bill does not provide a funding component.
“It’s not a huge expense,” Brown said. “It’s coordinating and working together better than they have in the past.”
Brown said the Fish and Wildlife Service would be required to submit a progress report to Congress every year. The accountability factor should ensure better cooperation and more effective use of existing resources in addressing the problem.
The issue of Asian carp in the Great Lakes was addressed in the Stop Invasive Species Act, which requires the expedited creation of a plan to block Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes through a number of rivers and tributaries across the Great Lakes region.