By Christine Tran
In the 1960s, Asian carp were first brought to the United States from Southeast Asia to control the growth of weed in waterways. Today, they have invaded the Mississippi, Missouri, and Illinois rivers and are predicted to take over the Great Lakes as well.
There are four types of Asian carp: silver, bighead, grass, and black. These carp are predicted to aggressively out compete the native fish for resources and eventually dominate the lakes’ ecosystem.
The Grass carp have already been found in Lake Michigan, Erie, and Ontario.
“The grass carp have been in the Great Lakes for probably 30 years… But we’ve been seeing recurring incidents of fertile grass carp in the Great Lakes,” stated Marc Gaden from Great Lakes Fishery Commission to CBC News.
According to the National Wildlife Federation, it is crucial to prevent Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes, because once they establish themselves in the ecosystem, they will be nearly impossible to get rid of.
The fish have no natural predators in North America and female Asian carp can lay approximately half a million eggs each time they reproduce.
Asian carp are advancing towards the Great Lakes via several waterways. The Chicago Area Waterways System is the pathway of greatest concern for Asian carp to enter the Great Lakes. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has built three electric barriers to prevent Asian carp from entering Lake Michigan, but these barriers are temporary and have been penetrated by the fish before.
“Our future plans include: continued participation in the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee; ongoing enforcement and inspection operations; ongoing research towards a better understanding of aquatic species in general and Asian carp in particular,” stated Dominic LeBlanc, minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard and Kathryn McGarry, Ontario’s Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry to Canadian press release website Marketwired.