Minnesota to join Michigan in lawsuit to keep out Asian carp
Written by Star Tribune   
Thursday, 24 December 2009 11:11
Minnesota will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to prevent ravenous Asian carp from entering Lake Michigan and ultimately threatening fishing in Lake Superior and inland Minnesota lakes.

Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson said Minnesota on Monday will join Michigan in a lawsuit that would force Illinois and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to take action to block the fish from entering Lake Michigan through Illinois.

"Once these fish enter Lake Superior, there are so many tributaries, they can swim upstream and get into other rivers, and that's a real problem for our water," Swanson said Wednesday.

Noting that the carp pose a threat to sport-fishing species, Swanson added, "Fishing is part of the Minnesota way of life."

Illinois and the Corps of Engineers operate canals and other waterways that open into Lake Michigan. Bighead and silver carp from Asia have been detected in those waterways after migrating north in the Mississippi and Illinois rivers.

A section of a Chicago shipping canal was poisoned this month to prevent the carp from getting closer to entering Lake Michigan while an electrical barrier was taken down for maintenance.

But scientists say DNA found north of the barrier suggest some of the carp got through and may be a short distance from Lake Michigan. Shipping locks and gates between them and the lake often open for cargo vessels.

The Michigan lawsuit filed earlier this week asks for the locks and waterways to be closed immediately and seeks a permanent separation between the carp-infested waters and the lakes. That would mean severing a century-old connection between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River.

"Once they enter Lake Michigan, then they have the ability to enter the Great Lakes system," Swanson said. "And it's very hard to put the genie back in the bottle when that happens."

"The fish are very destructive," she said. "They consume something like 20 percent of their body weight every day in food. It has a tremendous impact on other types of species in the water."
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