ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO/AP)— Gov. Mark Dayton says it’s urgent for Minnesota to stop invasive Asian carp from spreading into our waters.
“If we don’t take strong action … effective action soon it will become an unstoppable and unspeakable crisis,” said Dayton.
Last month the Department of Natural Resources discovered Asian Carp “environmental DNA” in almost two dozen locations along the St. Croix River.
Scientists say aggressive carp can starve out other fish by gobbling tiny fish and plants at the base of the food chain.
“They will totally devastate the ecology of our water ways,” said Dayton. “If we don’t act before they invade it will be too late.”
Dayton convened what was billed as a “carp summit” on Monday where a Department of Natural Resources specialist outlined an action plan that would include permanently closing of the Upper St. Anthony Falls lock and dam to prevent the fish from getting upstream.Dayton wants to hear more about the option to close the dam.
“If there was a real easy solution for Asian Carp, it would have already been implemented,” said DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr.
The DNR received $16 million to upgrade the Coon Rapids Dam this last legislative session. It will make the 99.9 percent effective against Asian Carp.
The governor plans to meet with Congress so they will take action in Washington to give the state and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers more authority to close dams if the invasive fish are found downstream.
Dayton is also asking the DNR for specific action plans such as electric or bubble barriers. He wants to know what’s most effective against carp and how much it will cost. Finally, he wants additional research into what can be done to stop Asian Carp from invading Minnesota waters in the future.
“A lot of what we need to do is find out what will work and what will not work, and how to get these measures put in place,” said Landwehr.
The meeting brought together representatives from the federal government,Wisconsin, the Minnesota Legislature and congressional staffers.
Dayton said he wants another meeting involving Minnesota members of Congress next month.
“We believe we need to act very aggressively with all the authority the legislature gives us to get ahead of these things,” said Landwehr.