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Sen. Toomey Calls For More State, Federal Cooperation On Asian Carp

Better federal coordination needed to protect Ohio River watershed

Thursday, Oct 25

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) sent a letter to Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission Executive Director John Arway today, asking him to identify ways the federal government can work with states to combat the spread of Asian carp in the Ohio River.

When Asian carp were found to be migrating toward the Great Lakes, the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee was formed to more effectively manage the federal and state response to the spread of this invasive species. However, no such committee has been formed to manage the response to the threat of Asian carp in the Ohio River watershed.

"It has also come to my attention that some federal agencies may even lack the congressional authority to provide technical assistance to state and local officials in their efforts to protect aquatic habitats from Asian carp outside the Great Lakes region. If that is the case, Congress should act immediately to rectify this oversight," Sen. Toomey writes.

The full text of the senator's letter is below.

October 25, 2012

Mr. John Arway
Executive Director
Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission
1601 Elmerton Ave.
Harrisburg, PA 17110

Dear Executive Director Arway,

The recent discovery of Asian carp DNA in Lake Erie is a troubling development for the Great Lakes ecosystem. Also alarming for Pennsylvania is the continuing upstream movement and proliferation of Asian carp in the Ohio River. As you know, these fish are ferocious eaters that modify the habitat of native species and threaten their overall wellbeing. This has already been the case in several areas of the Mississippi River basin, where native species have become outnumbered in certain areas by Asian carp.

We must do all we reasonably can to stop this invasion. Recently I had the opportunity to meet with your office and other local stakeholders in Erie about this important issue. My office also co-hosted a congressional briefing on mitigation efforts with various state fish and wildlife agencies. I appreciate your staff's efforts in educating Congress on this important issue.

Through these meetings, I have learned that a multitude of federal agencies are involved in attempting to slow the spread of the carp. This includes the White House Council on Environmental Quality, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Geological Survey, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

To coordinate the multi-agency response with state and local partners in the Great Lakes region, the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee was formed. However, no similar effort exists to streamline the federal Asian carp response in the Ohio River watershed.

It has also come to my attention that some federal agencies may even lack the congressional authority to provide technical assistance to state and local officials in their efforts to protect aquatic habitats from Asian carp outside the Great Lakes region. If that is the case, Congress should act immediately to rectify this oversight.

I would appreciate your insights on these important aspects of the Asian carp response. In particular, I would like to work with the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission to help identify how the federal government can maximize its effectiveness and efficiency as a partner in this worthy endeavor.

Sincerely,

Pat Toomey
United States Senator

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