New Poll Shows Support For 'Locking Out' Asian Carp
So far, there is no significant invasion of the dreaded Asian carp in Minnesota. But conservationists want the state to take another step towards stopping the fish from moving north.
The National Wildlife Federation and the National Parks Conservation Association released results of a new poll Wednesday about the spread of Asian carp.
The survey of 404 registered voters in Minnesota was conducted by Belden Russonello Strategists, LLC, a Washington, D.C. based firm.
Of voters surveyed, 63 percent support closing locks in the Mississippi River in Minneapolis. More than 90 percent would be concerned if the invasive carp got into Minnesota lakes and rivers.
"No other state stood up to this. They didn't fight this in Arkansas, where they escaped, they didn't fight this in Missouri, they didn't fight this in Iowa, we're not giving up," said Gary Botzek, Executive Director of the Minnesota Conservation Federation.
The groups are urging lawmakers to pass a bill to close the Upper St. Anthony Falls lock.
"It is the simplest, most cost effective way to halt their spread into Minnesota's lakes, rivers and streams," said Lance Ness, President of the Anglers for Habitat & Fish & Wildlife Legislative Alliance.
"The general public, we believe, is way ahead of the policy makers when it comes to the need to deal with these Asian carp," Botzek said.
Closing the locks won't please everyone.
Bob Schmitz works at a recreational boat company, Above the Falls Sports. They have stopped using the Upper St. Anthony Falls lock on request.
"I also appreciate commercial barge traffic because it adds color to our river. It's a living working river, which is unusual these days and so I would be very sad to see the commerce on the river go away," Schmitz said.
A Metropolitan Council study shows closing the lock would cost dozens of jobs and millions of dollars, but conservationists say with a multi-billion dollar fishing industry on the line, it's a small price to pay.
"There will be businesses impacted, but you have to measure that against what is at stake here. And we've got a $2.8 billion dollar fishing industry, tons of lakes and rivers upstream, that we can protect now if we close this lock," said Christine Goepfert with the National Parks Conservation Association.
The Army Corps of Engineers, which controls the lock, would need direction from Congress to close it.