Asian carp discovery fuels fears of
Published November 18th, 2004
WILL COUNTY -- A dead fish scooped from the Chicago Sanitary
and Ship Canal this week alarmed federal and state officials
trying to keep Asian carp out of Lake Michigan.
The fish was discovered less than 2 miles south of electrical
cables strung across the canal bottom near Romeoville
to keep the gluttonous carp from moving into the Great
State biologists confirmed Wednesday that it was a silver
carp, a species with a ravenous appetite for the same
creatures at the base of the food chain for sport fish
such as bass and walleye. The carp grow to an average
of 4 feet and 60 pounds, and eat up to 40 percent of their
body weight every day.
Routine testing in the canal near where the dead fish
was found did not turn up any other Asian carp. But the
Illinois Department of Natural Resources is planning a
more rigorous sweep next week to see whether the discovery
is a sign that the carp have moved closer to the lake
than previously thought.
Asian carp made their way north to the Illinois River
after escaping from fish farms during flooding along the
Mississippi River. Scientists fear that if the carp make
it to Lake Michigan, they could devastate the $4.5 billion-a-year
commercial and sport fishing industry in the Great Lakes.
Federal and state officials are building a new, more
powerful electrical barrier in the canal to replace a
temporary array of cables that has started to wear out.