LANSING-State Sen. Phil Pavlov, R-St. Clair Township, has introduced a measure as part of an eight-bill package that addresses continued threats posed by the illegal introduction, possession, use, transfer or sale of prohibited aquatic invasive species.
"Aquatic invasive species pose a devastating threat to the health of our Great Lakes," said Pavlov, author of Senate Bill 797. "This in turn could seriously affect the economy of the region and the lives of millions of Michiganders and others. We must take steps to prevent this from happening."
An invasive species is one that is not native to an area and whose introduction causes, or is likely to cause, economic or environmental harm or harm to human health.
SBs 795 – 802 would increase the fines for the illegal possession of aquatic invasive species; allow for the seizure of all equipment used in the introduction, possession and sale of these species; allow for the suspension of related commercial licenses; and suspend the responsible party's right to fish and hunt in Michigan.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has reported that the invasive species bighead and silver carp are spreading to lakes, rivers and streams in the Mississippi River basin and the Great Lakes region. They are not yet established here but are well-suited to the climate of the region.
Biologists expect that if these carp establish themselves, they will significantly disrupt the food chain that supports the native fish of the Great Lakes, diminish fishing opportunities and reduce the desire for recreational boating activities in areas inhabited by these fish.
Michigan law currently bans the possession of a select list of aquatic invasive species and expressly prohibits the possession, sale, transport or transfer of those prohibited species. However, there recently has been an increase in the trafficking of these species.
SBs 795 – 802 have been referred to the Senate Natural Resources, Environment and Great Lakes Committee for consideration.