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In May, an orchestrated fish kill found 100,000 pounds of dead fish and not one Asian carp. A spokesman for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources said the state will examine DNA evidence found in Chicago waters matched against the invasive species.
-June 3, 2010
They’ve become notorious for lurking in the Illinois River and for threatening to take over Lake Michigan, but what’s so fishy about Asian carp?
Three species of Asian carp threaten the Great Lakes: the bighead, silver and black carp. Asian carp can eat as much as 40 percent of their own body weight in food each day, according to Asiancarp.org, a Web site supported by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. The fish also reproduce rapidly, and their overpopulation leads to habitat destruction and food resources’ depletion, both of which threaten native species and the Great Lakes ecosystem, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The smaller silver carp have been known to jump out of the water when disturbed by boats, injuring recreational boaters. Asian carp also prove a substantial economic threat, particularly to the fishing, shipping and transportation industries.
Who is involved in eradicating the carp from the river systems and preventing them from entering the Great Lakes? What methods have these organizations employed?
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the State of Illinois, the International Joint Commission, the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have been working together to devise and implement methods to catch these slippery fish. Environmental DNA testing, developed by the University of Notre Dame, helps to monitor the fishes’ whereabouts. Among the methods currently being used to try to catch the carp are: electric barriers, poison (Rotenone) and nets, according to the EPA.
How would the fish cross into Lake Michigan?
The Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, a manmade waterway that connects the Mississippi River system and Lake Michigan, contains an electric barrier built to deter the carp from entering the lake, according to Asiancarp.org. The fish would only have to cross this barrier, or have someone toss a live carp into Lake Michigan (though Illinois state law prohibits the transportation of live Asian carp).
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