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.
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.
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.
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 eddmaps.org/Ontario.
To learn even more about Asian carp visit the following websites:
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