Asian Carp: Invasive Species on the Verge of Entering the Great Lakes

Photo Courtesy of www.wildlifeforever.org

Photo Courtesy of www.wildlifeforever.org

Asian Carp, members of the minnow family, are on the verge of invading the Great Lakes by migrating through the Mississippi. Flooding allowed the carp to populate other water sources by the 1980s; currently they have been found in 23 states of the US, according to www.nwf.org.

“Aquatic invasive species are destroying the environment, damaging fisheries, and costing American taxpayers billions of dollars annually,” stated U.S. New York Rep. John J. McHugh, in his speech before Congress.

These carps are not only on the verge of invading the Great Lakes, but they also pose a threat to people who enjoy boating, reports  www.nwf.org. Because of the boat engines, the fish are startled and they leap out of the water, very often colliding with someone in the boat and causing injuries, adds the website.

Major decreases in the native fish population, removing vegetation, shrinking oxygen levels, increasing turbidity, interrupt food chains, and new diseases and parasites, are just some of the negative effects of invasion of the carp,  according to invasivespecies.wa.gov.

Asian carp consume up to 20% of their body weight each day in plankton and can grow to over 100 pounds, reported nwf.org. Plankton are small organisms that structure the basis of the aquatic food chain and are critical to native fish.

Three different types of Asian Carp include bighead carp, silver carp, and black carp. Each can grow from 3-5 feet long and from 65-150 pounds, according to invasivespecies.wa.gov.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has the job of maintaining three electric barriers that are used to keep the Asian Carp from invading the Great Lakes. Unfortunately, these barriers are found to be avoidable, reported .nwf.org.

According to umesc.usgs.gov, the USGS Center for Aquatic Resources Studies and the UMESC scientists are working together to determine whether or not Asian Carp should be listed as injurious wildlife in the Lacey Act. This would make importing these fish illegal.

Don’t purchase or trade this species. Call 1-877-9-INFEST or report online.