Izaak Walton League Publications

Resolution to Separate Great Lakes Basin from Mississippi River Basin

Separate the Great Lakes Basin from the Mississippi River Basin to Stop the Spread of Aquatic Invasive Species


The Izaak Walton League of America has a long history of involvement with the Mississippi River; in fact, the League was founded in 1922 by 54 Anglers upset with how the Mississippi and many other waterways were being managed and manipulated.


In 1905, the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal (CSSC) was built to flush the sewage and industrial waste of Chicago away to the Des Plaines and Illinois Rivers instead of into Lake Michigan.


Arkansas catfish farms imported silver, black, and bighead carp, collectively known as Asian carp, to control aquatic vegetation in their operations.  The fish escaped confinement during flooding and since, have infested the lower Mississippi River, the Missouri River, the Illinois River and others. They make up 70% of the entire biomass of the Illinois River and promise the same for any other waters they populate.


Though government agencies have known about the threat of Asian carp to the Great Lakes for over ten years, poor planning, poor execution, and the lack of a lead agency have allowed the advancement of the carp to, and probably through, the CSSC.


The fish have the potential to ruin Great Lakes ecology and sport fisheries and infest every river and bay that connects to the Great Lakes. The bulk of the current opposition to separating the CSSC from Lake Michigan is due to the impact on the shipping of the barge industry using the canal.


The fish are thought to have breached the electrical barriers built by US Army Corps of Engineers and there is DNA evidence that some may have already entered Lake Michigan.


The only way to prevent more carp from entering the Great Lakes and to prevent other invasive species from entering one watershed from the other is to physically isolate Lake Michigan from the CSSC.


Therefore, be it resolved that the Izaak Walton League of America, assembled in convention in Hershey, PA, July 16, 2010, urges Congress to establish a permanent hydrological separation of the Great Lakes basin from the Mississippi River basin to stop the spread of aquatic invasive species, including Asian carp. 


Approved 7/16/10

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