For months, “show me a fish” has been a talking point of those opposed to Asian carp action. Well, they’ve got their fish.
A 19-pound Asian carp was caught just six miles downstream from Lake Michigan, the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee announced yesterday. A hired commercial fisherman performing routine fish sampling for the state of Illinois made the catch.
The adult bighead carp is the first of the invasive species found beyond the electric barrier meant to prevent fish from entering the Great Lakes. This confirms the month’s worth of testing that has shown Asian carp DNA north of the barrier, and Great Lakes activists are using yesterday’s catch to revitalize their calls for closure of Chicago’s locks to create a physical blockade between the fish and Lake Michigan.
“There are no other physical barriers before these monsters reach Lake Michigan,” said Andy Buchsbaum, Director of the Great Lakes Office of the National Wildlife Federation. “If the capture of this live fish doesn’t confirm the urgency of this problem, nothing will. We need to pull out all the stops; this is code red for the Great Lakes.”
The federal government has not announced any plans to close the two navigational locks that politicians from Michigan and other Great Lakes states have been trying to shut for months.
The US Army Corps of Engineers decided earlier this month that regular, periodic locks closures would do little to stop the invasive species from reaching the Great Lakes. The Corps is now conducting a long-term study regarding permanent lock closure — creating complete ecological separation between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River system — but that could take years.
In the meantime, the plan is to continue sampling areas in the Chicago canal system using netting and electro-fishing, techniques that U.S. Geological Survey experts say don’t work.
For a recap on the threats these fish pose to the Great Lakes, see the Christian Science Monitor’s “Asian carp: how one fish could ruin the Great Lakes”
Do you think yesterday’s catch will help expedite Asian carp action, or will the status quo remain? Share your thoughts on the issue in the comments below.
Carp Captured: Invasive Bighead Carp Caught Near Lake Michigan [The Natural Resources Defense Council] Asian carp discovered near Lake Michigan [The Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel] Asian carp search turns up nothing [The Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel] A Bighead Carp is Caught in Chicago Area Waterway System; Time for Action is Now [Healing Our Waters Great Lakes Coalition] An Asian Carp Is Found in The Chicago Waterways, But the Government’s Commitment to Science Has Gone Missing [Thom Cmar’s Blog]
Image Credit: Courtesy of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources