Townhall Meeting Outlines Plan to Fight the Flying Fish

Fighting the flying fish. With so much at stake, most agree the time to act is now. That was the message heard Wednesday during a townhall meeting on asian carp. Congressman Dave Camp and State Attorney General Mike Cox hosted the townhall meeting to ensure people understand the urgency of the situation. “It's a threat to our ecology and it's a threat to our economy,” says Cox, who started out by outlining the current steps the state is taking to stop the spread of the invasive fish. He says right now there are three options: the first is getting a supreme court ruling reversed that would close canals in Illinois, and stop the spread of the fish; the second is an executive order by the President; and the final option is an act of congress, mainly Congressman Camp's recently proposed Carp Act. The reason for the urgency is what's at stake, most notably the more than seven billion dollar sport and commercial fishery. But it's not all about just losing the fishermen who flock here. “Even if these carp don't effect fish in these rivers, they are going to effect boaters,” says Kelley Smith, DNRE Chief of Fishery, while pointing to a picture of asian carp flying out of the water. The invasive fish is known to hit and injure passing boaters. Another major threat is tourism in general, and all the businesses linked to the industry, like motels, resorts, and restaurants. “People choose to spend their leisure dollars here because of what we have,” says Brad Van Dommelen, President of the Traverse City Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. As of now, the state is working on the three options it has to stop the spread of the invasive species. Congressman Camp and Attorney General Cox asked everyone at the townhall meeting to join together and help them fight. “What we need to do is motivate these folks to work within their groups, their associations and really support the bill and support the efforts of the attorney general,” says Camp. One way Camp says you can show your support is by signing a petition online. You can head to www.stopasiancarp.com to add your name. 9&10's Ryan Raiche and Photojournalist Jeremy Erickson have the story.