It’s budget season and despite funding cuts in some areas, it appears that the Great Lakes could be provided with some of the resources they need to fight invasive carp.
The federal budget for 2020/21 stands at almost $5 trillion dollars and it appears that despite cuts of up to 13% to the Army Corps of Engineers budget, the 2021/22 budget could reach $6 trillion.
This budget increase could provide much needed funds to the restoration of the Great Lakes, which was the focus of the Great Lakes Fishery Commision’s 66th Annual Meeting on the 25th and 26th of May 2021.
Grass Carp Panel at the Great Lakes Fishery Commission
During the Annual Meeting, a panel of experts sat down to discuss the potential impact that Grass carp is having on the region. University of Texas Ecology Professor Christine Mayer, GLFC Fisheries Management Director John Dettmers and Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Aquatic Invasive Species Program Administrator John Navarro began with an update on invasive species, including sea lamprey and invasive carp.
Mayer stated that “Grass carp eggs have been found in the Maumee River near downtown Toledo. But the carp spawns especially heavily in the Sandusky River near Fremont, Ms. Mayer said. “Between 2018 and 2020, the grass carp population in the Sandusky was believed to have ranged between 164 to 183 a year” according to numbers presented during the meeting.
In addition to the Grass carp panel, the Lake Erie Committee made several recommendations including the seeking of funds to increase the number of carp catching teams from 3, to 10. It has also set a goal of removing 390 reproducing eligible Grass carp from the Great Lakes per year. Navarro also stated that there has been talks regarding “plans for a high tech barrier that he and other officials hope will be built to keep Grass carp away from their spawning habitat.”
Federal Budget Looms
On Friday 28th of May, Presiden Biden proposed a $6 trillion budget that includes a $10 million boost for Great Lakes clean up programs. Under the spending plan, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative would receive $340 million for fiscal year 2022, up 3% from $330 million for the current year.
“This budget is an agenda for robust, durable economic growth and broadly shared prosperity,” acting White House Budget Director Shalanda Young said on a call after the announcement.
In a further statement the advocacy group Alliance for the Great Lakes stated that “it hopes Congress will boost the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative further and fund it at the authorized level of $375 million.”
However, not everyone sees the budget as a positive with Michigan Republicans stating that the cut to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer (USACE) budget by over $1 billion is causing concern. USACE oversees several high priority projects in Michigan’s waterways including stopping the spread of invasive carp and the construction of the new Soo Lock.
More Than Just Environmental Factors
As with any state of federal decision, budgets are a key component when it comes to the delivery of invasive carp protection projects. Fish Guidance Systems regularly works with departments at all levels of government to help secure funding – providing expert information, advice and guidance on our innovative systems, alongside fish biology expertise, meaning that projects can be funded through proving scientific need.
- [1} Henry, T., 2021. Agencies are increasing efforts to remove grass carp, block them from spawning habitat. The Blade, [online] Available at: <https://www.toledoblade.com/local/environment/2021/05/25/agencies-are-increasing-efforts-to-remove-grass-carp-block-them-from-spawning-habitat/stories/20210525126>
-  Burke, M. and Beggin, R., 2021. Biden budget seeks to boost EVs, Great Lakes clean-up but cuts Army Corps. The Detroit News, [online] Available at: <https://eu.detroitnews.com/story/news/politics/2021/05/28/president-joe-biden-budget-seeks-boost-evs-great-lakes-cleanup-bt-cuts-army-corps/7487477002/>