National Parks Conservation Association Underscores Importance of National Park Service Plan to Prevent and Respond to Contagious Fish Disease in Lake Superior

 
PRESS RELEASE
  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date:   March 18, 2008
Contact:   Lynn McClure, National Parks Conservation Association, 312.263.0111 office, 312.343.7216 cell


National Parks Conservation Association Underscores Importance of National Park Service Plan to Prevent and Respond to Contagious Fish Disease in Lake Superior

 WASHINGTON, DC – The nation’s leading voice for the national parks, the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) today commended a plan released by the National Park Service as a major step toward preventing the spread of viral hemorrhagic septicemia—a contagious fish disease—to Lake Superior; it is already found in fish living in all of the Great Lakes except Superior. The plan, several months in the making, is a collaborative effort of several of the superintendents of the national parks in the region, as well as the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.

“This is a comprehensive and visionary plan, and the National Park Service is the first federal agency to take the lead on the tremendous threat posed by this contagious fish disease to Lake Superior,” said NPCA Midwest Regional Director Lynn McClure. “This disease has the potential to wipe out native fish populations, as it has in other Great Lakes, and it does not bode well for our national parks or for sport and subsistence fishing that is important to the region’s families and economy.”

The Park Service plan, written by the superintendents of Isle Royale National Park, Apostle Islands and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshores, Grand Portage National Monument, and the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, identifies the major carriers of viral hemorrhagic septicemia, or VHS as it is commonly called, including untreated ballast water, movement and migration of fish, recreational boating, and commercial and subsistence fishing. The plan recommends specific preventive actions combined with an aggressive public outreach and education campaign.

“Success in keeping VHS out of Lake Superior will require the cooperation of government, industry, Congress, and the American people. Congress must enact laws that comprehensively address aquatic invasive species in the Great Lakes, beginning with improving and passing ballast water management legislation,” said McClure. “We know how to stop these threats in our Great Lakes. The longer we wait, the greater and more expensive the problem. It’s time to use the resources that are available to protect the world’s largest source of fresh surface water, our Great Lakes, and the national parks that are an important part of them.”

Ballast water management legislation pending in Congress will control the dumping of ballast water, the main cause of aquatic invasive species, from ocean vessels into the Great Lakes. House and Senate legislation (HR 2830/S 1578) must be improved to ensure that ballast water treatment technologies are installed on vessels as quickly as possible and the Park Service and other agencies retain their authority to protect the waters of the Great Lakes.

The National Park Service VHS Prevention and Response Plan can be found at:
http://www.nps.gov/piro/parknews/vhs-plan-approved.htm

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Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice of the American people in protecting and enhancing our National Park System. NPCA, its 340,000 members, and many partners work together to protect the park system and preserve our nation’s natural, historical, and cultural heritage for generations to come. 

 

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