The CSSC is the only shipping link between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River and currently moves more that 14.6 million tons of commodities annually through its water ways according to the American Waterways Operators.Currently 2 electric fences located in the CSSC provide the only protection against the carp moving north into Lake Michigan.
Michigan’s Attorney General Mike Cox says that he will sue to try to force the closure of the Chicago-area locks to protect the Great Lakes from this invasive species threatening to take to decision before the U.S. Supreme Court.Cox said in a statement Sunday that the federal lawsuit will be filed soon but his office did not provide an exact time frame.
The reason for the recent controversy is the threat to the Great Lakes $7 Billion Sport and Commercial Fishing Industry. The threat comes from the large appetite of the Asian Carp and its direct competition for the same food supply of smaller fish. This, scientist predict, could lead to the reduced harvest of native fish Great Lakes.
According to the EPA website, catfish farmers imported the Asian Carp in the 1970s to remove algae from their farming ponds but floods in the 1990s flooded the farming ponds and carp were washed into the Mississippi River Basin. Over the Last decade the fish have made their way up the Mississippi river, Ohio River, Illinois River, and their many tributaries and are now threatening our Great Lakes.
There are two primary breads of these invasive Asian Carp; the “bighead” carp and the “silver” carp. The bighead though larger in size has seemed to be less prone to injury to boaters and skiers. These massive carp can grow up to 5 feet in length and weigh up to 100 pounds. The smaller of the two yet no less dangerous is the silver carp. The species can get to about 3 feet in length and about 50 pounds but is known for its tremendous jumping ability. These silver carp have been known to jump 8 to 10 feet in the air and have injured several boaters and skiers. AS boats move through schools of these silver carp they get spooked and begin to jump like crazy and many of them end up in the driver’s laps and boats injuring many people over the last few years.
Big Head Carp
Despite the great size of this species it is not a popular sport or consumption fish here in the United States both due to the difficulty to catch this plankton eating fish and its general regard as a “dirty fish”. Though we here in the United States have not caught onto the consumption of this fish it is important to note that this fish is heavily farmed in Asia and distributed to more than 40 countries for consumption purposes.
What’s being done?
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources has teamed up with local and regional agencies to form the Asian Carp Rapid Response Workgroup. The purpose of the workgroup is to access the current situation and recommend course of action should a rapid response be deemed necessary to deal with Asian Carp in areas of the CSSC, Des Plains River, and the Illinois and Michigan Canal. For more information about this Rapid Response Work Workgroup please visit: http://asiancarp.org/
We here at YakAngler would love to hear your comments about this ongoing controversy and look forward to discussing ways that this invasive species may be handled in an efficient and ecological friendly manner.