The Asian carp is an invasive species that can grow up to 100 pounds and four feet. It eats massive amounts and officials fear the species will starve out game fish in the Great Lakes and endanger the $7 billion fishing industry.
Attempts to block the Asian carp have apparently failed, so now other states- including Michigan- have filed a lawsuit asking the U.S. Supreme Court to order a shutdown on all locks. Last week the Obama administration took a position that Illinois shipping locks should not be closed.
"We don't yet know which action should be taken to ensure that these carp don't reach Lake Michigan. That we do know that government is committed to restoring and protecting our Great Lakes. We are not in denial of this problem. It is a serious problem and a serious challenge," said Durbin.
The report by the Army Corps of Engineers shows that Asian carp DNA- but not live fish- has been found in the Chicago River near the Wilmette Pumping Station, the part of the Chicago River that eventually flows into Lake Michigan. Electrical barriers at the entrance to the shipping channel were supposed to stop the invasive species from making it to Lake Michigan. On Tuesday, officials said they would build more concrete and electrical barriers to keep the carp out. Illinois legislators are looking for a solution that would protect the commerce that moves along the locks and the jobs they create.
"It was estimated in 2008 that 19 million tons of commodities moved up and down that barrier. And some of the companies that we have would go out of business if it was shutdown," said Rep. Judy Biggert, (R) Western Suburbs.
"We're going to have to find that balanced solution that addresses these issues of the invasive species while protecting our environment, protecting our great lakes, and remembering that we have to do it together," said Rep. Debbie Halvorson, (D) Crete.
"We are all in this problem together, we are all going to be part of the solution. So I think we should get on with the program, and listen to the work that has been done and the possible solutions that need to be implemented if it's possible to prevent any further progress of the carp," said Lisa Madigan.
A representative from Michigan criticized Illinois' efforts and promises, saying 'Illinois is holding all the other Great Lakes states in their hands because they don't want to close those locks.'