Monday, November 22, 2010

A Load of Carp

This past week, the U.S. Senate passed the Asian Carp Control and Prevention Act, which is designed to prevent the importation of Asian carp into the United States. The bill itself is short - its functional provisions are only a single sentence - but it explicitly lists the Asian Carp as an outlawed species and importing it could potentially land you in jail.

This is an important step. Asian Carp are the biggest threat to the Great Lakes right now. The EPA imported them in the 1970s to remove algae from catfish farms along the Mississippi River. Now the carp is about the pass through Chicago's lock system into the Great Lakes, where it's going to wreak all manner of holy havoc.

So even though it's important that the U.S. government is finally acknowledging that the world's biggest source of freshwater is about to be ravaged by an EPA experiment gone awry, simply slapping people with a fine and a few months of jail time isn't going to cut it if we really want to save the Great Lakes. We need prescriptive rules and regulations that will keep not just the Asian Carp out of the Great Lakes, but all injurious species like them. There are several plans on the table for how to do this, but no single idea has enough support behind it to be implemented at the moment. One thing is for certain, though: continued delay will cost us dearly.

I grew up boating on Lake St. Clair, but the shallow confines of the not-quite-Great Lake will be the perfect habitat the Asian Carp. It turns out that the sound of boat motors sends this sixty-pound fish into an aquatic frenzy - and then they fly out of the water and into people's boats, laps, and faces.

I'm trying to imagine what my childhood would have been like had I been forced to dodge fish that weighed almost as much as I did. Exciting?

1 comment:

  1. There is considerable debate among fish-people as to whether Asian Carp will be able to thrive in the Great Lakes or not; they have mainly invaded rivers where they have access to high levels of phytoplankton and the Great Lakes have relatively low levels of phytoplankton (thanks to the zebra mussel). I am more concerned about their potential to become established in our rivers. Not only could they destroy important salmon and trout spawning habitat, but could you imagine having to deal with these monsters while canoeing down the Huron River?