Sen. Kahn works to ban using Asian carp as bait
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
LANSING — Legislation to help fight invasive species and protect the Great Lakes from Asian carp was introduced in the Michigan Senate Wednesday, said Sen. Roger Kahn, R-Saginaw Township.
Senate Bill 1248 would ban the use of Asian carp as fishing bait and prohibit removing minnows from known Asian carp infested waters.
“Asian carp are a serious threat to the health of our waterways,” Kahn said. “This action is necessary to help stop invasive species from further damaging our state’s delicate ecosystem and economy.”
Michigan’s commercial and recreational fishing industry contributes $7 billion to the state’s economy, while the Great Lakes recreational boating industry adds $9 billion more.
According to Gerald Smith and John Vandermeer, scientists at the University of Michigan, Asian carp will eventually gain entry as bait unless they are legally excluded. Smith studies fish distribution, while Vandermeer studies ecological systems.
Asian carp were introduced to the Southern United States in the 1970s to control algae levels in ponds. Severe flooding in the 1990s caused the ponds to overflow allowing the carp to escape into the Mississippi River Basin.
If allowed to enter the Great Lakes, Asian carp could disrupt the ecological balance and threaten fishing and boating. The fish are voracious feeders that could push out native wildlife. One type of Asian carp can jump up to 10 feet out of the water when startled by boats, injuring boaters hit by fish that can weigh up to 70 pounds.
Kahn is working closely on the proposed laws with colleagues Reps. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, and Bob Genetski, R-Saugatuck, who have introduced similar measures in the House of Representatives.
Recently, Kahn joined U.S. Rep. Dave Camp and Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox at a summit on Asian carp at Saginaw Valley State University.