ANGLER Reports

Published: Summer 2014

Michigan Representative Seeks Great Lakes Separation

Photo of an asian carp jumping

A bill introduced this year in the U.S. House of Representatives could protect the Great Lakes region’s sport fishing industry from invasive carp.

In early March 2014, Candice Miller, the chairwoman of the Congressional Boating Caucus and former Michigan boat dealer, introduced a bill that seeks to prevent the further spread of invasive species or aquatic nuisance species (ANS). The proposal would give the Army Corps of Engineers the authority to design and construct a physical barrier between the Great Lakes and the Illinois River at the base of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal.

At an estimated $16 billion, the project is the highest priced of the eight alternatives proposed in the Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study released in early 2014. In a recent press release, Miller said this is a small price to pay if the Great Lakes fishing economy is saved.

“For me, as a lifelong boater who grew up on the Great Lakes, spending time on the water is a way of life," Miller said. "I know how important recreational and commercial boating is to our economic and social vitality. I also know the havoc Asian carp will wreak on our delicate ecosystem and fishing industry if we let them invade our lakes, which is why I have introduced legislation to completely separate the Mississippi River from the Great Lakes.”

In January of 2014, the Army Corps of Engineers released the long-awaited Great Lakes Mississippi River Interbasin Study, which looked at alternatives for addressing nuisance species spreading between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River. The study proposed eight options that ranged from doing nothing to constructing physical barriers between the watersheds. Miller’s bill calls for separation and the building of barriers, the most costly of the suggested actions.

“When you talk about the hydraulic separation of these waterways, it is very serious. This would create a major economic impact to the cargo shipping that keeps many of these river and lakeside communities alive,” David Kennedy of BoatUS Government Affairs said. “Although we hope this bill will re-engage Congress to take a serious look at ANS, we aren’t convinced physical barriers are the only way to address the problem.” – Nicole Palya Wood