Invasive Species – The Battle Against Asian Carp Continues
Posted on: July 2, 2019
Aerial view of Brandon Road Lock and Dam, Joliet, Ill., April 22, 2014. This dam acts as a choke point between Asian carp and the Great Lakes where the implementation of Asian carp deterrents has been approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. (Photo: U.S. Army Photo by Dave Wethington/Released. CC BY 2.0)

The fight to prevent Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes is kicking into high gear. On April 29th, the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee released the 2019 Asian Carp Action Plan, which involves efforts to find effective Asian carp deterrents. Plus this May, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approved plans to implement defensive structures in the the Brandon Road Lock and Dam, which acts as a choking point between the Illinois River and a variety of tributaries that lead into Lake Michigan.

Crews search for invasive Asian carp near Chicago , Aug. 2, 2011, following several recent discoveries of their genetic material in Lake Calumet. Teams swept the lake with half-mile-long nets. Six boats from government agencies and four commercial fishing vessels took part the search. No Asian carp were found. (Photo: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers photo by Jessica Vandrick)

The U.S. and Canada have been working together for years to avoid the damage that this invasive species would cause to native species in the Great Lakes. Both sides participate in frequent monitoring and prevention techniques like electrofishing and eDNA (environmental DNA) collection. Asian carp pose a serious threat to the health and ecology of native plant and fish species in the Great Lakes.

Electrofishing for the asian carp invasive species. (Photo: Public Domain by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

Asian carp is actually a blanket term for several related species of fish. The Asian carp that have invaded North American tributaries include four specific species of the cyprinid family: Bighead carp, Black carp, Grass carp and Silver carp. Asian Carp were first introduced in North America in the 1970s to manage algae in aquaculture ponds and are believed to have escaped into natural waterways during flooding events shortly after. They traveled northward in the Mississippi River towards the Great Lakes and were found to have already outcompeted native fish in the Illinois River area at 9 to 1 by 1990.

Asian carp in the United States and Canada refers to four species of carp. [Top] Black carp and Grass carp are invasive and the new 2019 Asian Carp Action Plan will look at improving our knowledge about these less pervasive species. [Bottom] The Silver Carp above the Bighead Carp can be hard to distinguish. Both are referred to as bigheaded carp and have presented the greatest threat to the Great Lakes. (Photo: Retrieved from Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee’s photostream on Flikr. [Top] Photos by Ryan Hagerty/USFWS. CC BY 2.0)

These fish are bottom feeders who eat huge amounts of algae and reduce the availability of food to native species. Silver Carp and Bighead Carp are the most pervasive. Silver carp are also sensitive to the vibration of motors and will jump out of the water, causing damage and injury to boaters and those using waterways recreationally.

You can join the fight against asian carp by reporting their presence. Get to know the distinguishing features of each species and get in touch:

  • Call the Invading Species Hotline at 1-800-563-7711, or report it online at

To learn even more about Asian carp visit the following websites:

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