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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Asian Carp Debate Heating Up

There is now ample evidence that the electrical barriers that the Army Corps of Engineers are counting on are not completely effective.  But ACE seems oblivious to the facts.  While the Great Lakes states are seeking to protect fishing and boating industries that generate about $25 billion annually, the ACE is more concerned about protecting shipping and tourism in the Chicago area.  The electronic barriers have bought the agency and politicians time, but the evidence is mounting that time is really on the side of the carp.

Many citizens are concerned about the Asian carp crisis.  But the complexity of the issues is overwhelming to much of the public.  Around the same time the positive DNA samples were posted, the Detroit Free Press published a five-part series of articles by Tina Lam that clarified some of those issues, and provided useful historical background on the Asian carp invasion.  Key points included:

·         Federal and state governments actually played a major role in releasing Asian carp into the environment.  Government biologists planted Asian carp in sewage lagoons and other waters in hopes the exotic species could help in pollution control.  Some fish subsequently escaped.  Officials admit they raised Asian carp in the 1970s and 80s when nobody seemed too concerned about invasive species.

·         Government officials failed to recognize the extent of the problem as it grew; now Asian carp are in a third of the rivers in the central U.S. from Louisiana to Minnesota.

·         Most of the public’s attention has focused on the adequacy of the electronic barriers to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes, but there has been little interest in getting rid of the menacing carp in the countless rivers and streams in 26 states where they have already taken over.

·         A national strategy to combat Asian carp that was drafted five years ago has sat on the shelf as no funding has been provided for its implementation.

·         The government’s current reaction to Asian carp is still a patchwork, with funding for carp control only available to the geographically-restricted Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.  What is needed is a coordinated, national effort supported by all states in the Mississippi River, Ohio River, and Great Lakes watersheds.

To view the Free Press’ articles see

1 comment:

  1. If you follow the link the pictures that accompany the articles are amazing. I didn't realize we had so many Asian carp.

    If you follow this link and scroll to the bottom of the page there is a video about Asian carp. It is really interesting.