Environment requires everyone's
The issue: Invasive species
Northwest Indiana Times
Our opinion: Education and other measures are important
to protect the environment from them.
As if there weren't enough things to worry about, here's
one more: Asian carp are moving this way, devouring everything
in their path.
This isn't the plot of some science fiction movie. This
The Indiana Aquatic Nuisance Species Management Plan
presented to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service last week
notes that while the largest bighead carp reported from
Indiana waters was 53.5 pounds, they are known to reach
90 pounds elsewhere in the United States. Silver carp
can grow to three feet long and weigh 60 pounds.
"In some of the big pools along the Mississippi
River, Asian carps have multiplied so quickly that in
less than a decade, they make up 90 percent or more of
the fish life," Indiana's plan says.
The fish were introduced to the United States for use
at fish farms, where they consumed excess aquatic vegetation.
Flooding along the Mississippi allowed some of them to
Their depletion of food for other species means that
walleye and other desirable fish might die off, threatening
commercial and sport fishing.
Indiana's new plan, if approved, would make the state
eligible for $100,000 in federal funding to address invasive
species that threaten native plants and animals. Already,
an estimated $3 million or more is being spent by Indiana
and other sources on this problem.
A temporary electrical barrier has been erected along
the bottom of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, before
it connects to the Grand Calumet River. The aim is to
keep invasive species away while allowing ships to continue
to use the waterway.
"We know the Great Lakes will be very receptive
to these fish," said Mike Conklin, chief of fisheries
in Illinois. "If they get in there, the ball game's
over for that $4.5 billion fishery."
Education is one necessary approach to fight this problem.
Remember the alligators discovered at the Valparaiso Country
Club this summer? They didn't hitchhike from Florida.
Some careless person set them free.
Likewise, fish bought for tanks but released in the wild
can carry diseases that jeopardize native species. Aquarium
owners need to be taught the consequences of being irresponsible.
In addition, fishermen are asked to report any unusual
fish they find. Measure its length, take a close-up photo
and freeze it, then report the find to a district fisheries
Preserving the environment takes everyone's assistance.