TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — Five states are moving forward with a lawsuit
against the federal government demanding steps to prevent Asian carp from
reaching the Great Lakes, despite recent congressional action, the Michigan
attorney general’s office said Thursday.
Legislation approved last month requires the Army Corps of Engineers to
complete a plan for shielding the lakes from the invasive carp within 18
months, or toward the end of 2013. A quicker timetable was one of the
requests in a suit filed three years ago by Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota,
Ohio and Pennsylvania.
But the states will continue pressing their case because the legislation
doesn’t guarantee that the corps ultimately will sever a man-made link
between Lake Michigan and carp-infested waters near Chicago, said Joy
Yearout, spokeswoman for Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette. The
lawsuit seeks a court order for such a step.
“The bill passed by Congress puts a limit on the Army corps’ endless studies
but doesn’t address future actions,” Yearout told The Associated Press.
“We’re hopeful the lawsuit could result in permanent separation.”
The case recently was transferred from U.S. District Judge Robert Dow to
another judge, John Tharp, as part of a docket reshuffling, Yearout said. It
has not been scheduled for trial. A government motion to dismiss the suit is
Invasive bighead and silver carp have infested the Mississippi River and
many of its tributaries, including the Illinois River, which is linked to
Lake Michigan by a waterway network that includes a navigational canal near
The corps contends an electric barrier in the canal is blocking the carp’s
path northward toward the lake. But Asian carp DNA has turned up repeatedly
in water samples collected as recently as June in waters beyond the barrier.
The corps says the genetic material doesn’t necessarily prove the presence
of live fish in the area and could have come from other sources, such as
ballast water dumped by barges after being picked up downstream.
The agency is continuing to produce scientific and economic reports that
will help shape its eventual recommendations on preventing migration of
Asian carp and other species between the Great Lakes and Mississippi basin.
A report released Thursday said 37 federally recognized American Indian
tribes in the region engage in subsistence fishing, yielding an annual value
of $15,000 to $16,000 per household. Another found that hundreds of
professional fishing tournaments are held on the lakes each year.