Aquatic Invasive Species

Zebra mussel shells completely cover a Lake Michigan beach. Photo: John Karl, University of Wisconsin Sea Grant

Aquatic invasive species have wreaked havoc on the Great Lakes ecosystem. Over 180 non-native species, many of them invasive, have been introduced into the lakes through the Erie and Welland Canals connecting the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean. A current major threat to the lakes is the potential spread of Asian carp into Lake Michigan from the Mississippi River via the Chicago Area Waterway System.

Sea lamprey, alewives, round gobies, zebra mussels, and quagga mussels are a few of the more invasive non-native species that have entered the Great Lakes, decimated populations of native species, and radically altered the ecosystem of the lakes. The ecological and economic damage resulting from these organisms is estimated at over $100 million annually.

What is the GLLC Doing?

The Caucus’s policy agenda identifies aquatic invasive species as one of the priority issues for the organization, committing to the following:

  • Strengthen and harmonize state and provincial laws on ballast water
  • Monitor and support efforts to prevent the introduction of Asian carp into the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River

One of the key activities that the GLLC has followed since 2012 is the efforts by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to stop the introduction of Asian carp into the Great Lakes through the Chicago Area Waterway System. The Caucus has consistently urged the Corps to expedite the Great Lakes-Mississippi River Interbasin Study. In addition, the Caucus has asked both the executive and legislative branches of the federal government to address the problem of Asian carp through action and appropriations.

The Caucus also monitors activities related to ballast water as a means of introducing aquatic invasive species into the Great Lakes.

Policy Positions and Correspondence

For More Information

Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee

Blue Accounting (Great Lakes Commission)

Executive Collaboration on Aquatic Invasive Species (Great Lakes & St. Lawrence Governors and Premiers)

Great Lakes-Mississippi River Interbasin Study (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers)

Vessel Incidental Discharge Act Engagement Opportunities (U.S. EPA)

In 2019, GLLC members toured Brandon Road Lock and Dam and observed the harvesting of Asian carp from the Rock Run Rookery Preserve in Illinois.
Indiana Rep. Earl Harris, Jr. (center), and MNA Gilles Belanger (Qu├ębec) learned about the proposed construction at Brandon Road Lock and Dam.
Ontario MPP Jennifer French listened as Sen. Ed Charbonneau (Indiana) asked a question about Asian carp at Rock Run Rookery in Joliet, Illinois.
Commercial fishermen showed some of their afternoon catch.
Rep. Lisa Subeck (Wisconsin) and other GLLC members were briefed on the plans for stopping Asian carp at Brandon Road Lock and Dam.