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Stakes are high in battle to keep Asian carp out

July 15, 2012
The Mining Journal

It was indeed unsettling this week to learn that DNA from Asian carp was found in Lake Erie.

The discovery, which was reportedly made last year, is especially jarring given the mount of time and treasure that has gone into battling the fish.

Asian carp are classified as an invasive species. They were originally imported here from China to clean up retention ponds along the Mississippi River, among other places. Regrettably, the ponds flooded, the fish got loose and native fish populations in the Illinois and Mississippi rivers have been badly impacted because the Asian carp is such a voracious eater.

Research has shown that one type of Asian carp, the bighead that can grow to 100 pounds, eats nearly half its body weight each day.

Officials stress that it's unclear how the DNA got into Lake Erie. For example, one theory holds it could have come from the feces of fish-eating birds. No actual fish have been caught.

It's believed Lake Superior with its icy temperatures and immense depths, of all the Great Lakes, is the least likely to successfully host an Asian carp population. It seems the carp prefer warmer waters that have an elevated algae content.

That said, the fishing industry on all of the Great Lakes is worth a whopping $7 billion annually. So the stakes are high.

We wholeheartedly encourage the continued investment in the battle to keep the Asian carp out.

We know what happens when the fish become established. That's not what we want for the Great Lakes.



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