By Tom Davidson
Herald Staff Writer
MERCER COUNTY AREA —
The people of the 3rd Congressional District can sleep easier: their congressman supports the war on Asian carp.
It’s no joking matter as the foreign fish are considered an invasive species in America that could pose a threat in the Great Lakes.
State and federal officials have been trying for years to figure out a way to stop the species, which is present in Midwest rivers, from gaining a fin-hold in the lakes.
“This is about protecting our regional economy, the fishing industry, and the livelihoods of all of us who rely on the water for jobs,” Rep. Mike Kelly, Butler, R-3rd District, said on the floor of the House last week. “These invasive species significantly alter the habitat and crowd out native fish and are also a threat to boaters.”
Kelly is co-chairman of the Northeast-Midwest Congressional Coalition.
He introducted an amendment Tuesday to the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act that would allow the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to combat Asian Carp in the Ohio River Basin and its tributaries.
“This is not a Republican or a Democrat issue. This is an American issue that has to be looked into,” Kelly said.
The amendment was withdrawn after a colleague from New Jersey, Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, reserved a point of order on it, and Kelly talked up the issue again to raise awareness on the floor of the House.
“This fish is 70 pounds when it reaches its full maturity. It is a voracious eater. It is going to totally take over the Great Lakes,” Kelly said. “It will ruin our fishing industry.”
The much-maligned carp are known for eating other fish out of their habitats and sometimes leaping out of the water, in some cases into boats and injuring people.