Asian carp are a serious threat to the waterways of the Great Lakes, but the solution to their potential invasion must not create additional economic harm.
The carp, which can weigh up to 100 pounds, are predators. They would threaten numerous fish species native to the area, the broader environmental balance and even boaters and tourists striving to enjoy recreational opportunities. Once positive contributors to helping remove algae from Southern fish ponds, they are now regarded as among the most dangerous of invasive species.
One misguided attempt to deal with the risk is to close the navigational locks in the Chicago area. This would disrupt hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of shipping and essentially sever Northwest Indiana’s crucial water-based commerce with the rest of the world.
Federal investment, in the form of additional electric barriers, would prove more effective in keeping the carp out of the Great Lakes while still allowing Indiana and the other states in the region to maintain the shipping prowess that benefits so many companies and their employees.
Washington is paying attention – as it should. The barrier plan emerged from a White House-led summit. Indiana and its neighbors must now work together to support this prudent alternative. The threat is real; a radical closure of shipping lanes and economic opportunity, however, is not the answer.
A new organization called Unlock Our Jobs has formed to tackle this issue, offering alternative options while keeping our waterways open for business. Its web site can also help you quantify the economic impact of river traffic and lock closures on your state.