Live Asian carp found near Lake Michigan a ‘serious concern’

 

Live Asian carp have been found nine miles from the shores of Lake Michigan at the location shown here near Chicago. (Google Maps)

Live Asian carp have been found nine miles from the shores of Lake Michigan at the location shown here near Chicago. (Google Maps)

On Thursday a live Asian carp was found alive just 9 miles from Lake Michigan near Chicago.

The Silver carp, which is one of two types of fish considered an Asian carp, was caught on the Little Calumet River, just down river from the Thomas J O’Brien Lock on the Southside of Chicago.

This is the second time a live Asian carp has been found beyond three barriers that were put in place on the Illinois River to block the fish from coming into the Great Lakes.

“It’s a serious concern,” Department of Natural Resources public information officer Ed Golder said. “For us it underscores the need for some immediate action that we know need to, and can be taken.”

The Asian carp has damaged the Mississippi River Basin for years without any natural predators to control the growth. There are no fish that are large enough to eat it, and it consumes enough algae to seriously cut into the food source of native or controlled fish species.

The migration North on the Mississippi River raises a concern for what it could do to the Sport Fishing industry, especially in communities that have a big part of its economy coming from that.

The silver carp also are dangerous for boats as they are known to be skiddish and jump out of the water when excited.

“All you have to do is look at what has gone on in the Mississippi River Basin. Right there you find carp that have really taken over and have out-competed native species. Not to mention, posing a threat to recreational boaters,” Golder said.

“If you’ve been on YouTube you can see the videos of the Asian or Silver carp, and they really do pose a threat to people who are on the water. They can knock you out of the boat. They’ve actually broke a few jaws.”

Golder does believe that there is a lot that can still be done, but that starts with a feasibility report that done by the Army Corps of Engineers. It was suppose to come out in February with information about what structural work needs to be done at the Brandon Road Lock and Dam near Jolliet, Illinois to combat the spread of Asian carp.

The White House order a stop on the report on Feb. 28.

“The first (thing that should be done) would be to the release of the feasibility study from the Army Corp of Engineer on the Brandon Road Lock and Dam. The dam is near Joliet, Illinois and it’s a critical pinch point for Asian Carp. The Army Corp report is really a milestone in the fight against Asian Carp. It’s only to be helpful if it’s released by the federal government,” Golden said

“We really think it would be helpful to have that. Brandon Road Lock and Dam is really a critical place where structural changes need to be made to stop carp from getting into the lakes.”

This all happens during a time that the administration is looking to slash environment funding. The Trump administration is looking to implement a 31 percent cut in the Environment Protection Agency’s budget.

The proposed budget plan would eliminate programs essential to fighting the spread of Asian carp like the Integrated Environment Strategies, Environmental Education and Regional Science and Technology.

Golder hopes to keep the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative alive to accelerate efforts to save the Great Lakes.

The GLRI was founded in 2010 with the help of the EPA and according to its website it has a mission plan of, ‘Cleaning up Great Lakes Areas of Concern, Preventing and controlling invasive species, Reducing nutrient runoff that contributes to harmful/nuisance algal blooms, and Restoring habitat to protect native species.’

“The second thing is to continue funding for the monitoring, assessment and protection of Asian Carp through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative program. That funding is really essential in the fight against carp,” Golder said.

“It’s a huge concern (the funding). We’ve actually talked to many members of the congressional delegation in Michigan and there is strong support for continued funding of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.”

There has been bipartisan support on Friday afternoon with politicians from both parties worried about the ecological repercussions.

Both Rep. Bill Huizenga (R, Zeeland) and Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) expressed concern Friday. Stabenow has pressed the Trump administration over the last few months trying to find out when the report on the Brandon Road Lock and Dam will be released.

“Today’s news is a wakeup call. It is deeply alarming that a live Silver carp was found only nine miles from Lake Michigan. While I’m glad the emergency protocols I helped create through legislation in 2015 played a role in this detection, the fact remains that we need a permanent solution at Brandon Road,” Stabenow said. “We need to know how the Silver carp came so close to Lake Michigan and whether there are any additional carp in the area.”

“The discovery of Asian Carp this close to Lake Michigan demonstrates how the window of opportunity to protect the Great Lakes is closing,” Huizenga said. “If Asian Carp are able to gain access and reproduce within the Great Lakes, the environmental and economic damage will be severe. Protecting the Great Lakes should be a national priority and a bipartisan endeavor. I am calling on the Trump Administration to release the Brandon Road Study. If the Administration does not release this critical study, the House should take up the Stop Asian Carp Now Act to force its release.”

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Posted by Brian Fogg

Brian is the sports writer for the Manistee News Advocate. You can reach him at (231) 398-3110 or bfogg@pioneergroup.com.

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