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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Lock Out The Carp

One solution to keeping Asian carp out of the Great Lakes is to close the locks that connect the Chicago Area Waterway System (CAWS) to the Mississippi River basin.  This idea has picked up steam after the recent discovery of bighead carp in the CAWS. This discovery represents a failure of the muti-million dollar electronic barrier that was installed to prevent the passage of unwanted fish species.

Closing the locks isn't as easy as it might seem.  Michigan recently sued Illinois to try to have the locks closed but the Supreme Court denied hearing it.  So for now, it looks like the carp can't be locked out of the Great Lakes.

There are still other doors the invasive carp can use to enter the Great Lakes.  The Carp are in the Des Plaines River and river flooding can give the fish a passageway into Lake Michigan.  Lake Erie, the shallowest and warmest of the Great Lakes could be at a greater risk than the others and also provides an entrance for the carp via the Maumee River.  In order for the fish to enter the lake this way, the Wabash River which already is invaded by Asian carp would have to flood and connect to the Maumee River through tributaries and drainage ditches.

Asian carp have been reported in Lake Erie as far back as 1995.  These finding are thought to be isolated instances perhaps due to stocking and have shown no evidence of a sustainable population. It's not believed these fish enetered Lake Erie through the Maumee/Wabash River connection.

To learn more about bighead carp visit the USGS web-page on them: http://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?SpeciesID=551

The Asian Carp Control Regional Coordinating Committee also maintains an informative website at: http://www.asiancarp.org/Wordpress/