Quantcast

Asian Carp Quickly Advancing Toward the Great Lakes

Alliance for the Great Lakes

The leading edge of the Asian carp invasion in Illinois has advanced dramatically, with spawning moving nearly 100 miles upstream this year to within 25 miles of an electric barrier that is the last line of defense guarding Lake Michigan and the Great Lakes beyond.
 
Data collected by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources in June shows that verified spawning of Asian carp—a key indicator of a viable Asian carp population and its ability to out-compete native fish species—has moved to within just 62 miles of the lake.
 
“The fish are beating a quick path to the Great Lakes and we need federal efforts to keep pace with the threat,” says Joel Brammeier, president of the Alliance for the Great Lakes. “Congress needs to take action now to support a permanent solution to the problem.”
 
Asian carp, a grouping that includes the notorious bighead and silver species, are invasive species with voracious appetites. The filter-feeders are capable of eating up to 20 percent of their body weight each day in algae and small microscopic organisms. Their rapid growth and intense feeding threaten the base of the food web in waters that they invade. Silver carp are well-known for leaping into the air at the sound of passing motorboats, a behavior that has injured boaters and other water enthusiasts in waterways they have infested throughout the U.S.
 
"The fact that Asian carp are reproducing, and these reproducing populations are moving closer, makes it even more important that action is taken quickly," notes Cheryl Kallio, associate director for Freshwater Future. “Thousands of citizens in the region have been contacting their members of Congress, calling for fast action on a permanent solution to stop Asian carp. They've had an impact with the Stop Invasive Species Act. We’re one step closer, but it is critical for people to continue reaching out to their elected officials.”
 
“At every phase of the game, the Asian carp have been underestimated in their advance up the Mississippi and through Illinois on their way to the Great Lakes,” says Natural Resources Defense Council attorney Meleah Geertsma. “We have to get out in front of this invasion once and for all, which means putting in a physical separation to avoid unnecessary environmental and economic damage that comes with these detrimental devils.”

Earlier this year, the U.S. Geological Survey discovered Asian carp have an ability to spawn in waterways previously considered unsuitable, meaning their spawning can occur in shorter, slower-moving waterways and that there are more tributaries that could serve as carp pathways to the Great Lakes than previously thought. The trend of a now rapidly advancing spawning front in Illinois, as well as increased capacity for spawning, is further evidence the Asian carp threat to the Great Lakes is imminent.

Silver carp are well-known for leaping into the air at the sound of passing motorboats.

"This is another urgent indication that the entire Great Lakes region needs to support a physical barrier in Chicago in order to protect our economy, our fishery and our way of life," says Marc Smith, senior policy manager with National Wildlife Federation.
 
“Evidence of Asian carp breeding much closer to Lake Michigan is an urgent reminder that the clock is ticking on our opportunity to put a permanent solution in place,” said Jack Darin, director of Sierra Club, Illinois Chapter. “Breeding Asian carp near the barrier raises the threat level to Great Lakes. The carp are on the move, and we all need to redouble our work toward a permanent solution before it’s too late.”
 
The increased threat of Asian carp illustrates the need for a prompt and permanent separation of the Great Lakes and Mississippi River to protect Chicago waterways and the Great Lakes. Lab testing has shown that Asian carp fry—or babies—are far less affected than adults by the charge on the electric barrier that is meant to keep them out of Lake Michigan.
 
“Fish don’t care about congressional authorization or timetables,” says Robert Hirschfeld, water policy specialist at Prairie Rivers Network. “The half-measures currently in place have not stopped the advance of Asian carp. Congress needs to act now to separate the basins or it will bear responsibility for a devastating blow to the Great Lakes economy.”
 
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is scheduled to complete its long-awaited Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study (GLMRIS) in December. Its goal is to find solutions that end the transfer of aquatic nuisance species between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins.
 
“Despite all the effort to understand the problem and stop the advance of bighead and silver carp, at present a fully implemented, permanent solution could still be years away,” said Margaret Frisbie, executive director, Friends of the Chicago River. “With Asian carp on the move and our rivers at risk from dozens of other aquatic invasives already present in the Great Lakes, we need to do better than that and ask Congress to act as soon as GLMRIS is released.” 

Visit EcoWatch’s BIODIVERSITY page for more related news on this topic.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Pexels

By Dan Nosowitz

It's no secret that the past few years have been disastrous for the American farming industry.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Gavin Van De Walle, MS, RD

Medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil and coconut oil are fats that have risen in popularity alongside the ketogenic, or keto, diet.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Pexels

By Bijal Trivedi

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report on Nov. 13 that describes a list of microorganisms that have become resistant to antibiotics and pose a serious threat to public health. Each year these so-called superbugs cause more than 2.8 million infections in the U.S. and kill more than 35,000 people.

Read More Show Less
Rool Paap / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

By Franziska Spritzler, RD, CDE

Inflammation can be good or bad depending on the situation.

Read More Show Less

By Joe Vukovich

Under the guise of responding to consumer complaints that today's energy- and water-efficient dishwashers take too long, the Department of Energy has proposed creating a new class of dishwashers that wouldn't be subject to any water or energy efficiency standards at all. The move would not only undermine three decades of progress for consumers and the environment, it is based on serious distortions of fact regarding today's dishwashers.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored

By Emily Moran

If you have oak trees in your neighborhood, perhaps you've noticed that some years the ground is carpeted with their acorns, and some years there are hardly any. Biologists call this pattern, in which all the oak trees for miles around make either lots of acorns or almost none, "masting."

Read More Show Less

By Catherine Davidson

Tashi Yudon peeks out from behind a net curtain at the rooftops below and lets out a sigh, her breath frosting on the windowpane in front of her.

Some 700 kilometers away in the capital city Delhi, temperatures have yet to dip below 25 degrees Celsius, but in Spiti there is already an atmosphere of impatient expectation as winter settles over the valley.

Read More Show Less

The Dog Aging Project at the University of Washington is looking to recruit 10,000 dogs to study for the next 10 years to see if they can improve the life expectancy of man's best friend and their quality of life, as CNN reported.

Read More Show Less