What Is the Big Deal About the Asian Carp?
You may have seen videos on the Internet showing giant fish jumping out of rivers and
on the water. And, the danger to humans is only one reason that we want to Slap
the Asian Carp.
The rivers in the Midwest are filling up with these giant fish, and now there are
tons of them, just waiting to get into the Great Lakes system. A few decades ago,
these fish—especially the Silver Carp and the Bighead Carp--escaped from fish
farms in the South, and they’ve been making their way North ever since, chowing
down and breeding all along the way. In some places, the Illinios River is just
choked with them now, and all that is keeping them from getting into the Great
Lakes System is an Electric Barrier across the river near Chicago. That’s it. This barrier kills "good" and "bad" alike, it's very expensive, and it's not fool-proof. In fact, it stopped working for several minutes in May 2012. Even if some Asian carp have gotten into Lake Michigan, that doesn't mean we should just give up. More needs to be done now, and it will only get done if we keep putting pressure on the officials who make the decisions.
These Aren’t Your Typical Carp ... Here's How They Are Different
The Silver and Bighead Carp aren’t bottom-feeders. They don’t eat scum and garbage off the bottom of waterways; they eat plankton, disrupting the food chain at the start. That’s important for a few reasons—both good and bad.
1. That means that they compete for the food of native fish and--up the chain--sport fish who regularly live in the
areas that they invade. That’s a bad thing, because they eat so much, these other "good" fish can’t get enough to eat,
and they are dying...being crowded out. That has big implications for both the environment and the economy.
2. That also means that humans and our pets can eat them. We can export them, too.
3. They eat and rest at the surface of the waters, and when boats, swimmers, and other people having fun come
along, they get startled and fling themselves into the air. That’s why they are dangerous to people. People have
gotten whacked pretty hard...and gotten hurt...like getting their jaws broken. Imagine one of these 80-pounders
smacking into a toddler wading in the water. A monster fish that big could kill a small child.
4. However, this habit of jumping out of the water makes them really easy to catch and kill if you’re ready for them. Just ask the
folks at the Redneck Fishing Tournament. In 2014, they removed over 7,000 Asian Carp over the course of two days in Bath,