WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) today released a letter urging the Administration to take swifter action to prevent Asian carp from overtaking Lake Erie and rivers in Southwestern Pennsylvania. Asian carp are dangerously close to entering the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers and their tributaries, and samples taken this summer from Lake Erie have tested positive for Asian carp environmental DNA.
“Preventing Asian carp from reaching Pennsylvania waters is a necessary and important step to protecting the fishing and boating industry, as well as the health of our rivers and lakes,” said Senator Casey. “The millions of people who fish and boat in Pennsylvania’s waters each year and depend on the industries for jobs and economic well-being deserve swift federal action to stop this invasive fish before it invades our waterways.”
In his letter to White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) Asian Carp Director John Goss, Senator Casey wrote that a decrease in native fish population would hurt the fishing and aquatic sports industries. He laid out the economic argument for protecting Pennsylvania’s waterways from the invasive fish, noting:
~~ The Lake Erie coastal region supports 1.2 million Pennsylvanian jobs
~~ Nearly 2 million people fish in Pennsylvania each year and contribute more than $ 1.6 billion to the state’s economy
~~ The Ohio, Allegheny and Monongahela rivers and their tributaries extend 30,000 miles, offering expansive fishing opportunities in western Pennsylvania
Senator Casey has been a leader in the effort to prevent Asian carp from reaching Lake Erie, recently pushing for a law to require the speedy creation of an action plan to block Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes through a number of rivers and tributaries.
Senator Casey has also pushed the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency to crack down on the smuggling of live Asian carp into Canada from the United States, a practice that could put the ecosystem of Lake Erie and the jobs and economic activity that depend on a healthy lake at risk.
Senator Casey’s letter to CEQ Asian Carp Director John Goss is below:
Dear Mr. Goss:
I am writing to urge the White House Council on Environmental Quality to more swiftly and effectively respond to the threat of Asian carp to western Pennsylvania. Asian carp are currently in the Ohio River near Kentucky and could soon enter the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers and their tributaries in western Pennsylvania. Additionally, samples taken from western Lake Erie this summer tested positive for the presence of Asian carp environmental DNA. We must work to prevent this invasive species from damaging these vital water resources that help to sustain Pennsylvania’s economy.
In recent years, the restored health of the Ohio, Allegheny and Monongahela rivers has supported the rise of fish populations. These three rivers and their tributaries extend 30,000 miles, offering expansive fishing opportunities in western Pennsylvania. The presence of the Asian carp in these waters would threaten Pennsylvania’s vibrant fishing industry. Furthermore, Lake Erie spurs the Commonwealth’s economy in countless ways. For example, the Lake Erie coastal region supports 1.2 million Pennsylvanian jobs. The nearly 2 million people who fish in Pennsylvania each year contribute more than $ 1.6 billion to the state’s economy. A decrease in the native fish population would hurt the fishing industry. We must strengthen the efforts to protect Pennsylvania’s water resources.
The presence of Asian carp in Pennsylvania’s waters would also discourage tourism, a vital component of the local economy. For instance, as a tributary of the Monongahela River, the Youghiogheny River is a popular spot for recreational activities such as boating and aquatic sports. We must work as hard as possible to prevent the Asian carp from causing irreparable damage.
While the government has taken action in the past to address the Asian carp threat, a stronger effort must be made to stop the potential adverse effects of Asian carp on the Ohio, Allegheny and Monongahela rivers and their tributaries, as well as in Lake Erie. We must ensure that this water system remains such a resource for future generations of Pennsylvanians.
I will remain committed to protecting Pennsylvania’s river system and Lake Erie from the significant threat posed by Asian carp. Immediate action is critical to preventing Asian carp from overtaking Pennsylvania’s water resources. The White House Council on Environmental Quality must strengthen its efforts to address the threat of the Asian carp.
Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter and I look forward to continue working with you.
Robert P. Casey Jr.
United States Senator
National Wildlife Federation photo