The Asian carp’s ever-northern journey has environmentalists, scientists, and politicians afraid for the fate of Lake Erie. It has been predicted the invasive carp could utilize the Ohio River as well as smaller waterways to make the trek to the Great Lakes. The Long Lake vicinal to Akron, Ohio may be a possible entry for the northbound carp. Another is over an Indiana bog and in Maumee River, near Toledo, Ohio. There is dissent among leading carp specialists concerning whether the fish would survive or attempt the trip through the Ohio River.
Konrad Dabrowski, aquaculture specialist at Ohio State, said the carp would not have reproductive success in Ohio due to warm water temperature requirements both for breeding and maturation purposes.
“Their growth in most of the Great Lakes will be limited to just a couple of months during the year and the rest of the year they will be losing weight,” he said.
Other researchers argue that global warming could make Ohio waters gradually more conducive to carp’s survival.
Of all the Great Lakes, Erie is the most sensitive to an Asian carp invasion. It is the balmiest, has the most variety of aquatic life, and is not as deep compared to the others, which makes it an ideal home for the invading carp.
“Lake Erie would feel like home sweet home — with plenty of food — for carp if they can find their way in,” said Eugene Braig, Ohio Sea Grant College Program assistant director. Braig and Dave Kelch, another Sea Grant specialist, have been employed by the Ohio Division of Wildlife to amend the state’s current plan of attack against invasive species.
Preventive measures are in the works to not only ensure the carp do not reach Lake Erie using Long Lake, but how to deal with their presence if they enter Long Lake. These measures include persuading Congress to divide the Mississippi and Great Lakes waterways from each other in Chicago, continued observation of Eagle Marsh, and a formal mode of operations if the carp reach Ohio.
Braig said, “Basically, we need to be ready to answer this: …We find Asian carp in tributaries up toward the Ohio and Erie Canal, what do we do?”
Asian carp crisis lands at shores of Lake Erie, but only in a study plan (for now) [The Plain Dealer] Could Asian carp in Ohio River system reach Lake Erie? [The Plain Dealer] Asian carp swimming up Ohio River, rolling into Cleveland to Lake Erie? Someday-but not yet [The Plain Dealer] Asian Carp [U.S. Dept. of Agriculture: Invasive species] Asian Carp Control [Asian carp Regional Coordinating Committee]
Image Credit: T. Lawrence, Great Lakes Fishery Management