Press Release Mar 9, 2012

Asian Carp Have Arrived: Broad Support Emerges for Legislation to Stop Invasive Fish

Coalition applauds legislation aimed at stopping the advance of Asian carp into Minnesota’s waters

St. Paul, Minnesota – A broad coalition of supporters – including sportsmen, environmentalists, and property owners – applaud the introduction of legislation aimed at stopping the advance of Asian carp into Minnesota’s waters. Now that Asian carp have been found in the Mississippi River, it is critical that action is taken as quickly as possible: the long-term health of Minnesota’s lakes, rivers and streams depend on it. A change in lock operations must occur to prevent Asian carp from becoming further established in our waters.

The Upper Mississippi Conservation and River Protection Act (Upper Mississippi CARP Act) was introduced by a bi-partisan effort, led by U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken and Representatives Keith Ellison, Erik Paulsen, and Tim Walz. The legislation is also supported by Governor Dayton and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. The bill would require the Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock be closed in the event that Asian carp are found close to the lock.

The bill would also require the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to conduct a feasibility study on closing the Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock, and to examine the possibility of using other control methods, such as modifying lock operations and installing alternative barriers, to stop the spread of Asian carp.

“The recent capture of live Asian carp just south of the Twin Cities is a game-changer,” said Marc Smith, senior policy manager with the National Wildlife Federation. “If carp are allowed to move further upstream, Minnesota’s wildlife and way of life are at risk.”

Asian carp are an invasive species that can grow to more than four feet long and weigh up to 100 pounds, while quickly dominating a body of water by consuming the same food that sustains native fish populations.

“Minnesota’s hunters and anglers applaud this new legislation to protect our wildlife heritage from Asian carp,” said Gary Botzek, executive director of the Minnesota Conservation Federation. “Asian carp provide a clear and present danger to Minnesota’s vast natural resources. The time for action is now.”

Although positive eDNA tests of Asian carp were detected in the Mississippi, Minnesota and St. Croix rivers near the Twin Cities in 2011, it took until March 2nd of this year for a silver or bighead carp to be physically caught in the Mississippi River (near Winona).

Christine R. Goepfert, program manager with the Minnesota office of the National Parks Conservation Association, applauds this effort: “The Mississippi River is a valuable part of our national park system and serves as a gateway to the thousands of other lakes and rivers in Minnesota. This bi-partisan effort is an important first step toward protecting all of Minnesota’s rivers and nearby parks from the spread of Asian Carp.”

This opportunity must not be passed up: the health of our waters and our economy depend on action now. Pass the CARP Act!

Additional Information:

Coalition Members: Anglers for Habitat, Audubon Minnesota – National Audubon Society, Clean Water Action, Fish and Wildlife Legislative Alliance, Friends of the Mississippi River, Izaak Walton League of Minnesota, Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, Minnesota Coalition of Lake Associations, Minnesota Conservation Federation, Minnesota Seasonal Recreation Property Owners, Mississippi River Fund, Minnesota Coalition of Lake Associations, Minnesota Waters, National Parks and Conservation Association, National Wildlife Federation, National Parks Conservation Association, St. Croix River Association, Minnesota Trout Unlimited, New Ulm Area Sport Fisherman

Additional Quotes for Media:

“This is not just a once in a lifetime opportunity, it may be the one time in our history that that we have the chance to prevent the spread of Asian carp to waters upstream of Minneapolis. We must not pass this up. The health of our waters and our economy depend on action now.” – Henry VanOffelen, Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy

“If we as a state fail in our fight against Asian Carp to halt the further spread, the financial and recreational consequences will be profound.” - Barb Halbakken Fischburg, Minnesota Coalition of Lake Associations

“This legislation provides some critical protections for Minnesota’s waters, however, it is only part of an all-out effort needed from state and local government and the private sector. We have to take swift action in order to prevent a body blow to our fishing and outdoor recreation industries – some of the largest industries in the state.” – Darrell Gerber, Clean Water Action

“The National Audubon Society is pleased that this important step has been taken to protect the river ecosystem important to the Mississippi River Flyway. Millions of ducks, tundra swans, egrets, herons and other water birds depend on a healthy aquatic ecosystem as the migrate along the river.” – Don Arnosti, Audubon Minnesota

“The legislation is critical and we need every member of the MN Delegation on board. We can’t let the perfect get in the way of good. The water assets of the state are at risk and this federal legislation will help ensure their future.” – Dave Zentner, Izaak Walton League of America

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About National Parks Conservation Association
Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its more than one million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s natural, historical, and cultural heritage for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org.