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MI Attorney General Launches On-line Petition Drive to Stop Asian Carp

January 14, 2010

LANSING, Mich. - Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox is rallying citizens across the Great Lakes region to help in his effort to stop the invasive Asian Carp from making its way into the lakes. This is Cox's second step in a process that aims to close the Chicago locks, which could allow the exotic fish to enter the lakes from the Mississippi River basin.

Cox is launching an on-line petition drive at www.stopasiancarp.com encouraging citizens to send comments directly to Congress and President Obama. The President opposes the lawsuit, which could force the Army Corp of Engineers to close the locks.

National Wildlife Federation-Michigan spokesman Andy Buchsbaum says once the carp make their way into the Great Lakes, they pose a great risk to ecosystems of smaller lakes and rivers connected to the larger bodies of water.

"They're not likely to establish themselves in the open waters of the lake, according to the scientists we've talked to. But when they make it over the straits and begin coming down to Saginaw Bay, Lake Erie, Lake St. Clair, and the St. Clair and Detroit rivers - those are places where there's plenty of food that will support them."

Buchsbaum says Asian Carp eat other fish and algae. Although scientists don't know exactly how much damage the carp could do, he says the invasive zebra mussel is one example of the problems created by allowing non-native species to flourish in the Great Lakes.

"The mussels generate large quantities of this native algae called Cladophora, and that native algae - because it reproduces so rapidly and in such quantities - breeds botulism. The botulism has resulted in fish kills and bird kills in Lake Erie, along Sleeping Bear Dunes."

Scientists say the carp, which can weigh 40 pounds or more, could out-compete other species for food and devastate the $7 billion-a-year Great Lakes fisheries. Several other states have signed on to Michigan's federal lawsuit, including Ohio, New York, Minnesota, Wisconsin and the Province of Ontario. The President and his home state of Illinois oppose closing the locks.

Amy Miller/Laura Thornquist, Public News Service - MI