I have been fishing Lake Erie for more than 50 years and have seen a serious decline in the fishery over the last few years. Lake Erie produces more edible fish than all of the other Great Lakes together and this even brings the issues more to light.
We have several issues but the biggest has been the impact of aquatic invasive species. So far, the perpetrators have mostly been a couple of small mollusks, zebra and quagga mussels. The Round Nose Goby is extremely disruptive to game fish species reproduction in the Western Basin. These are bad enough, but the Asian Carp is lurking on the horizons with the potential to bring disaster to the Great Lakes and particularly Lake Erie.
The Asian Carp would attack Lake Erie at both ends of the food chain by wiping out phytoplankton and zooplankton, the base of the food chain for the entire fishery. They have the potential to take over key game fish reproduction river watersheds such as the Maumee, Black, Vermilion, Huron, Portage, and Sandusky rivers.
There is only one permanent solution: permanent separation of the Great Lakes from the Mississippi River system. The federal agencies involved must use all of the tactics in their Asian Carp Control Strategy Framework. President Obama must order the federal agencies to immediate, decisive action. We must close and seal off the locks on the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal. Simple closure will allow passage of some fish.
The short term loss of a relatively few million dollars in shipping costs vs. the potential economic disaster to the multi-billion dollar fishing and tourism industries of the Great Lakes states must be the decisive factor.
The author is president of the Ohio Divison of the Izaak Walton League of America and a member of the Ohio Great Lakes Compact Advisory Board.