By Rachel Wells
As a lawsuit seeking to close two Chicago navigational locks remains under review by the U.S. Supreme Court, Great Lakes leaders on Wednesday agreed to seek $20 million for an Asian carp management and control plan.
According to Christina Mulka, press secretary for U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, congressmen are seeking the money to study target specific poisons, advocate increased Asian carp commercial fishing and research pheromones and other technology that would lure the overbearing fish away from Lake Michigan.
Lawmakers have not proposed a specific source for the funding. The money could come from the $475 million in federal funds already appropriated for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, a regional approach to invasive species and pollution, said Mulka.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' work in containing Asian carp includes the construction of underwater electric barriers. Since 1998, $41.2 million in federal funding has gone toward the barrier project. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources has also spent $700,000 to kill Asian carp during barrier maintenance, according to news releases from Durbin's office.
"We're looking for a solution outside of the courtroom," Mulka said. With support from several other Great Lakes states, Michigan filed suit in December asking the Supreme Court to close two Chicago navigational locks to keep Asian carp out of Lake Michigan.
U.S. Rep. Judy Biggert also hosted today's meeting of Great Lakes leaders. Phone calls placed to Michigan legislators, U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra and U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, were not immediately returned. Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox also could not be reached for comment.