Invasion of the Asian Carp?

As many people living in the Great Lakes area have heard, there is a large issue involving invasive species in the Great Lakes, most notably, the Asian Carp. This name refers to any of four species of carp that are native to Asia. They were initially introduced to help control algae in fish ponds in the South. They quickly spread throughout the area and are now threatening to enter Lake Michigan, and thereby all the other Great Lakes from the Mississippi River through the Chicago Canal System.

If the Asian Carp firmly establish themselves in the Great Lakes, they would threaten the natural ecosystem seriously. They can eat up to 20% of their body weight every day and grow up to 110 pounds, and as a result, there is no speices in North America that has the capacity to eat these massive fish. They eat plankton and algae and as a result outcompete the native species for food, growing and reproducing very rapidly.

There are many efforts being made to come up with a solution to this problem. An ecological separation seems to be a necessity. Currently there are electric barriers in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal that are helping to control the issue but they do not prevent all nonnative species from crossing and are not a long term solution. The Great Lakes Commission has come up with 3 alternatives for keeping nonnative species out of Lake Michigan. These are barriers in 3 different areas of the CSSC. The costs and positives and negatives of each of these alternatives were very closely analyzed, and it seems that The Mid-System Alternative would be the best option.

I think that it is very important that this issue be addressed and taken seriously. The Great Lakes are a valuable resource to all of the surrounding areas, if not to all of Canada and the United States. If these nonnative species take over, the entire ecosystem could be changed and therefore the way in which humans and animals interact with it would be different as well. It is difficult to determine what the exact results would be, but nothing beneficial can come from this, and therefore it should be addressed as soon as possible.

More information about this issue and the 3 alternatives can be found here:

http://www.glc.org/caws/pdf/CAWS-PublicSummary-mediumres.pdf

http://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/regions/northamerica/areas/greatlakes/newsroom/restoring-the-natural-divide-1.xml

MARISSA REECE

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One response

  1. I’ve heard a lot about the Asian Carp invading our waters. Hopefully we can stop them somehow from entering more of our waters. This species is a threat to our fish, and the economy of people who catch and sell other fish to make a living. The Mid-System Alternative is the best option, but we have to act fast to keep them out!

    Whitney Webb

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