A poll released by the National Wildlife Federation and other conservation groups said 63 percent of Minnesota voters would support closing locks in Minneapolis to prevent the spread of Asian carp up the Mississippi River.
The Stop Carp Coalition, a Minnesota-based advocacy group, is now calling on officials to halt the advance of the invasive species into Minnesota waterways by closing the Upper St. Anthony Falls lock.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has identified two species of principal concern: Bighead carp and silver carp both feed on smaller sport fish like the native walleye. They can jump up to 10 feet out of the water, injuring boaters and other lake-goers. Bighead carp can weigh up to 110 pounds, silver carp up to 60 pounds, and can grow to be four feet long.
Wildlife advocates fear that the invasive species could harm native fish and their habitat – fishing supports 43,000 Minnesota jobs and contributes $640 million a year in tax revenues to the state and federal government, the DNR says.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar passed legislation closing the lock as part of the Water Resources Development Act which passed the Senate with bipartisan support. The House now needs to pass the bill.
"Minnesotans understand that fishing is not just a major part of our Minnesota economy, it is part of our quality of life and heritage," Klobuchar said of the new poll. "That's why I convinced my colleagues in the Senate to pass my amendment closing the lock. The legislation needs to now pass the House."
According to poll results, 93 percent of respondents would be "concerned" if Asian carp got into lakes and rivers throughout Minnesota, while 60 percent said they'd be "very concerned." Twenty-four percent were opposed to closing locks in the Twin Cities.
While there is not an established population in Minnesota waters, Asian carp have colonized large areas of the Mississippi and Illinois rivers, accounting for over 90 percent of living organisms in some stretches.
"Our polling indicates that protecting Minnesota's waters from Asian carp unites Republicans, Democrats and Independents," said Emma White, senior director at Belden Russonello Strategists, LLC, the Washington, D.C.,-based firm which wrote and administered the poll. "Voters of all political stripes support closing locks on the Mississippi River as a way to prevent Asian carp from moving further upstream into Minnesota's rivers and lakes."
ABOUT THE POLL
The survey of 404 registered voters in Minnesota was conducted June 27 to 30 by Belden Russonello Strategists, LLC.