President Signs Levin’s Asian Carp Prevention and Control Act into Law

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

WASHINGTON - President Obama today signed into law a bill authored by Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., that will aid in the fight against the further spread of Asian carp in the United States. The Asian Carp Prevention and Control Act, S.1421, will add the bighead carp species of Asian carp to a list of injurious species that are prohibited from being imported or shipped in the United States under the Lacey Act. The Senate approved the bill in November. Levin introduced the bipartisan bill in July 2009 with Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio. Levin and Voinovich co-chair the Senate Great Lakes Task Force.

"This law is an important step in the effort to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes," Levin said. "These fish pose a real, clear and growing threat to the Great Lakes and I will continue working to ensure tools like the Asian Carp Prevention and Control Act and others will be available as we counter this threat. The devastating effects Asian carp could have on the Great Lakes are not fully known, and I want to make sure they are never realized."

The Asian Carp Prevention and Control Act will list the bighead carp as injurious wildlife under the Lacey Act, which was originally passed by Congress in 1900 and amended in 1981. Listing the bighead species of Asian carp under the Lacey Act will help prevent the intentional introduction of the species by prohibiting the interstate transportation or importation of live Asian carp without a permit. This legislation will not interfere with existing state regulations of Asian carp, and it will allow states to issue permits to transport or purchase live Asian carp for scientific, medical or educational purposes. The Fish and Wildlife Service has already listed other species of Asian carp as injurious under the Lacey Act.

Originally introduced into the United States as a management tool for aquaculture farms and sewage treatment facilities, Asian carp are voracious eaters that can grow up to six feet and 110 pounds. These non-native species were first used in Louisiana catfish farms in the 1970s to control snails and vegetation. In the mid 1990s, flooding allowed the Asian carp to escape from fish farms. They have spread to most of the Mississippi River watershed and the Missouri River, devastating the food resources and habitats of native and sport fish populations. The bighead carp, along with the other species of Asian carp, now account for the majority of fish in the Missouri River.

Because the Mississippi River is connected to the Great Lakes through a man-made sanitary and ship canal, Asian carp are now close to entering and establishing themselves in the Great Lakes. They also threaten entry into the lakes via a flood plain which could open passage for the carp in Indianas Wabash River.

In addition to Levin and Voinovich, other Senate sponsors of the bill were Sens. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., Chuck Schumer, D-NY, Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY, Russell Feingold, D-Wisc., Richard Durbin, D-Ill., Robert Casey Jr., D-Penn., Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.