Tourism Business - Outdoor Recreation Groups Join Forces to Keep Asian Carp Out of Great Lakes

Jul 27, 2011, 08:00 ET from Michigan Lodging and Tourism Association

LANSING, Mich., July 27, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC), the Michigan Boating Industries Association (MBIA), and the Michigan Lodging & Tourism Association (MLTA) have announced co-sponsorship of the first-ever "Asian Carp Summit" to be held during the "Michigan Lodging and Tourism Industry Legislative Conference" on September 13th at the Radisson Hotel, Lansing.  The Michigan Snowsports Industries Association (MSIA) will continue as a co-sponsor of the legislative conference.  The "Asian Carp Summit" represents the first time Michigan tourism business and outdoor recreation groups have ever collaborated on an issue of common concern.  

Asian Carp have been working their way up the Mississippi River basin since their initial release from flooded fish farms in the southern United States in the 1970s.  These invasive species are as close as northern Illinois and DNA traces have been found in waters above an electric barrier designed to prevent their entry into the Great Lakes.

Silver and Bighead Carp are plankton feeders that can consume 5-20% of their bodyweight and are prolific breeders.  Asian carp can grow to 40 to over 100 pounds, and when alarmed Silver Carp can leap up to 10 feet in the air.  If allowed to establish sustainable populations in the Great Lakes they will eventually spread to tributaries and inland lakes doing great damage to Michigan's commercial, sports fisheries, pleasure boating opportunities and the state's image as an attractive vacation destination.

"Our goal is to educate tourism industry and outdoor recreation stakeholders on this critical issue, which has frightening implications for Michigan's environment and economy.  We must raise awareness to the point of action by the sportsmen and women of Michigan and the Great Lakes region," said Erin McDonough, MUCC Executive Director.

"The potential destruction of a $3.6 billion commercial and sports fishing industry and $3.9 billion boating industry by Asian Carp - should be alarming to all segments of Michigan's leadership," said MBIA President John Ropp.  "And the thought of a 40 pound Silver Carp jumping in front of a boat traveling at 30 miles per hour is chilling to pleasure boaters everywhere. We must act now to prevent such possibilities."

"Asian Carp threaten all that tourism represents in the Great Lakes region and Michigan stands at ground zero.  If the federal government allows them into the Great Lakes, Asian Carp will destroy much of what the 'Pure Michigan' brand stands for, and that makes this an issue for rural, resort, urban and winter tourism operators across the state," said MLTA President Steve Yencich.  

The ultimate goal of the summit is to seek passage of a concurrent House/Senate resolution calling on Congress to act immediately to pass the Stop Asian Carp Act sponsored by Congressman Dave Camp (R-Midland) and Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Lansing).  The act would require the speedy creation of an action plan to permanently separate Lake Michigan from the Chicago Area Waterway System, where experts believe Asian Carp could enter and cause irreparable harm to the Great Lakes.

This separation will help alleviate, not only the possibility of Asian Carp entering the Great Lakes, but the overall threat of invasive species to Michigan's waters.   More species are introduced into the Great Lakes every year and, while the groups agree on the need to focus on the carp now, they also agree on the need to prevent all invasive species from entering the Great Lakes.

Michigan United Conservation Clubs is largest statewide conservation organization in the nation. Through over 42,000 members and 250 affiliated clubs, MUCC works to accomplish its mission of Uniting Citizens to Conserve and Enhance Michigan's Natural Resources and Protect OUR Outdoor Heritage.

Established in 1954 as the Voice of Boating in Michigan, Michigan Boating Industries Association is a state-wide, non-profit organization dedicated to Advancing, Promoting & Protecting the Marine Industry in Michigan.  

Based in Lansing, the Michigan Lodging and Tourism Association is a 106-year-old trade association that educates, markets, and advocates on behalf of Michigan's lodging and tourism industries.

SOURCE Michigan Lodging and Tourism Association