Tell Gov. Hochul to block invasive species at the Erie and Champlain canals

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Lock and round goby

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The round goby, a small fish with frog-like eyes native to the Baltic and Caspian seas, reached the Hudson River in July. After being introduced to the Great Lakes, it entered the Erie Canal by 2014, and took just seven years to reach the Hudson. Its disruptions to the ecology of the Mohawk and Hudson rivers is now unpreventable, and its continued spread through the Champlain Canal could threaten Lake Champlain.

This won’t be the last invasive species to use the Erie and Champlain canals to spread into new ecosystems – unless Governor Kathy Hochul takes decisive action to block their passage through these century-old canals.

Using technology and processes used at many marinas for lifting, washing and winterizing boats, we can close small portions of each canal while maintaining recreational boating access. Through careful consultation with the limited commercial users of the canals, we can ensure that industry’s needs are met as well.

Scientists have identified blocking species invasions via New York canals as perhaps the most important single action that can protect the ecology of the Hudson River. Species of Asian carp that would cause dramatic disruption to native species like striped bass, sturgeon and herring have been moving through the Mississippi River and threatening the Great Lakes, the last stop before the Erie Canal. Once an invasive species reaches the Mohawk or Hudson, it can rarely be eradicated. Its effects are often more dramatic, damaging and lasting than pollution. Rarely do we have the opportunity for a surgical, definitive and proactive solution to this thorny environmental problem.

The Hudson River’s signature fish species are at critically low levels, in decline or at best showing halting early signs of recovery. Climate change will stress an ecosystem already assaulted by decades of overfishing, pollution, habitat destruction and past species invasions. Preventing disruption by yet another invasive species is a profound act of resilience.

Now is the time to take decisive action.


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