WASHINGTON — The White House said Monday it was eyeing "multiple lines of attack" against invasive Asian carp threatening Great Lakes eco-systems and fisheries after talking strategy with local state governors.
The Obama administration unveiled a short-and long-term strategy and a 78.5 million dollar investment to fight the carp, which it is feared could soon be devouring plankton supporting Great Lakes salmon, trout and perch.
"We believe there are multiple lines of attack against the carp," said Nancy Sutley, chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality.
Sutley said however there was "still time" to halt the spread of the carp into the Great Lakes, the largest surface freshwater system on Earth, which straddles the US and Canadian borders.
"As with many great eco-systems across the country, invasive species have harmed the Great Lakes, and an invasion of Asian carp threatens to be particularly ecologically and economically damaging."
Sutley met Wisconsin governor Jim Doyle and Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm at the White House.
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn and Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell joined the meeting by conference call, along with officials from Ohio.
The administration strategy includes a plan to reduce openings in Chicago's navigational locks to prevent carp infiltration.
Among other measures, federal agencies will also deploy larger than normal crews to search for carp with physical and sonar observations, electro-shock techniques and netting.
Asian carp were imported by US catfish farmers in the 1970s to remove algae from ponds, but escaped during 1990s floods when ponds overflowed their banks, and chomped a damaging path up the Mississippi River.
In some areas, they are the dominant species, wiping out indigenous fish populations and ruining fragile eco-systems.
Weighing up to 100 pounds, (45 kilograms) the fish can grow up to four feet long (1.22 meters) and consume vast amounts of food, and would likely severely disrupt the food chain that exists in the Great Lakes.
The Great Lakes system consists of Lake Superior, Lake Huron, Lake Erie, Lake Ontario and Lake Michigan.
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