U.S. SEN. BOB Casey, of Scranton, is speaking out about the threat posed by invasive Asian carp to Pennsylvania waterways, and it's time that sports and environmental groups joined the chorus.
The aggressive, voracious fish are making their way up the Ohio River, and this summer Asian carp DNA samples were taken in Lake Erie. The animals, which can weigh up to 100 pounds and measure 4 feet long, threaten to disrupt sport fishing and destroy ecosystems by gorging themselves and starving other species.
Although a planning director at the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission said the carp are "a big priority for us" it's hard to see how river states can thwart the pest without federal help. To date, $200 million in federal funds have been spent to keep the carp from the Great Lakes, but relatively little attention has been paid to the rivers.
That's why Casey, like elected officials in other states, has called on the Obama administration to take swifter action on both fronts – Lake Erie and rivers in this corner of the state. In a letter this month to John Goss at the White House Council on Environmental Quality, the senator wrote, "We must work to prevent this invasive species from damaging these vital water resources that help to sustain Pennsylvania's economy."
"A decrease in the native fish population would hurt the fishing industry" in the state, he wrote, which involves nearly 2 million people who fish in Pennsylvania each year and accounts for $1.6 billion in the state's economy.
That is too much to lose for lack of vigilance. The federal government, as Casey urged, should become partners with the states in standing tough against these waterborne predators.