Bill funds a barrier to stop high-flying carp U.S. House
Written by Detroit Free Press   
Monday, 02 July 2007 06:58

Funding for an electric barrier considered crucial to keep high-flying Asian carp out of the Great Lakes passed the U.S. House late Wednesday.

The measure uses federal money to complete a barrier in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal that aims to keep the frightening fish, which can grow to more than 100 pounds, from migrating upstream to Lake Michigan.

From there, the invasive fish could spread to the other lakes, decimating native fish because they could out-compete with them for food.

The huge carp can also leap through the air and have been known to smack fishermen and boaters, sometimes injuring people and damaging boats.

The legislation also provides for more research on the fish.

The carp were imported from Asia to control algae on fish farms in the south but escaped into the Mississippi River in the early 1990s during floods. Since then, they've swum north and made it as far as the Illinois River, which connects to the Great Lakes through the Chicago ship canal.

A faltering, temporary barrier near Chicago is all that has kept the fish out of Lake Michigan to date. A more powerful barrier that has electrodes spanning the canal is partly built and needs funding for completion.

The barrier funding is in an appropriations bill for the U.S. Department of Interior and included with other funding for Great Lakes research and programs.

The Senate is expected to pass the bill in mid-July. Congress has been trying to pass barrier funding for several years, but as part of a controversial water resources act. By putting it into the Interior Department appropriations bill instead, it passed more easily, environmental groups said Thursday.
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