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Uh Oh, Asian Carp in Great Lakes Watershed What Does This Mean?

October 29, 2013Patrick NunnallyRiversComments Off on Uh Oh, Asian Carp in Great Lakes Watershed What Does This Mean?

Yesterday’s news that a reproducing population of Asian carp had been identified in the Great Lakes watershed was greeted with dismay across a wide variety of news platforms.

The four fish, caught in the Sandusky River in Ohio, all contained biological indicators that they had spent their entire lives in that river, and had not come from a fish farm or originated elsewhere and been accidentally transported to the Sandusky.

What does this discovery mean?  Turns out, it can be seen to have several meanings.

As reported in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, US Geological Survey specialist Duane Chapman says the discovery makes the job of controlling the invasive fish more difficult, but not impossible.

Several sources have noted that grass carp such as the ones identified this week aren’t as big a threat to the Great Lakes ecosystem as silver and bighead carp.  Silver carp, the “jumpers” that are so famous via YouTube, and bighead carp outcompete native species for food, causing vast disruptions to aquatic food chains.  Grass carp, while damaging, are primarily of concern because they damage underwater vegetation.

Nevertheless, as Prairie Rivers Network argues, the presence of a reproducing population of any of the Asian carps anywhere in the Great Lakes watershed means that it’s time to accelerate action to block the others from gaining such a foothold.

 

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