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Exotic Species -- Asian Carp

 Background

Asian carp are a significant threat to the Great Lakes because of their size, fecundity, and ability to consume large amounts of food. Asian carp can grow to 100 pounds and up to four feet. They are well-suited to the cold water climate of the Great Lakes region, which is similar to their native Eastern Hemisphere habitats. It is expected that they would compete for food with the valuable sport and commercial fish. If they entered the system, they would likely become a dominant species in the Great Lakes.

Two species of Asian carp-the silver and the bighead carps-escaped into the Mississippi River from southern aquaculture facilities in the early 1990s when the facilities were flooded. Steadily, the carp have made their way northward, becoming the most abundant species in some areas of the Mississippi, out-competing native fish, and causing severe hardship to the people who fish the river. The Chicago Ship and Sanitary Canal connects the Mississippi River to the Great Lakes. Currently, the carp are in the canal and have been sighted approximately 40 miles from Lake Michigan.

  

Commissioner Dave Ullrich, Director of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative, discusses Asian carp and separation on the Chicago Area Waterway System--CTV (January 31, 2012).

  

Read Asian Carp: The War Isn't Over on the Great Lake Fishery Commission's eForum Newsletter.

Thumbnail of Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee poster(Click the image to see the full sized version)

  


New: Asian Carp B-Roll Footage



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Photo of fish eggs Photo: American Fisheries Society