Swanson: Swift action needed to keep carp out of Great Lakes

Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson said Monday that Asian carp pose a real threat to the Great Lakes, and she hopes a judge will order temporary measures to stop the fish from spreading.

The invasive species, which can harm native fish, has been detected near Lake Michigan, and Minnesota and several other states are participating in the lawsuit calling for a permanent way to stop Asian carp.

"If they get into the Great Lakes, you can't put the genie back in the bottle," Swanson told MPR's Morning Edition. "Once Asian carp enter it will be difficult to control them."

Swanson said something must be done quickly, and she hopes the judge will enter a preliminary injunction after a hearing today in Michigan so that nets can provide a temporary barrier in shipping locks in Chicago.

Shipping companies have argued that barriers -- especially a permanent one that Swanson and others believe is necessary -- would harm traffic moving in and out of Chicago. But Swanson said Asian carp perhaps pose a greater threat to the Great Lakes fishing industry.

If the fish eventually made it to Lake Superior and tributaries, Minnesota's $2.7 billion fishing industry could also take a major hit, Swanson said.

"Fishing is important," she said. "We don't want to be the land of 10,000 carp-infested lakes."

Minnesota Public Radio
Article Publish Date: 
August 23, 2010