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Great Lakes Article:

Government too late with ban on carp
By Michael Eckert
The Times Herald (Port Huron, MI)
Posted October 19, 2007


Is late really better than never?

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service on Thursday added the black carp to its list of "injurious fish." The black carp is one of the so-called Asian carps everyone is worried will destroy the Great Lakes.

Because it is an injurious fish, it is illegal to import black carp, their eggs or hybrids into the United States or to transport them between states.

It would have been nice to make that illegal three decades ago, when the black carp first appeared in North America. It would have been a good idea in the 1980s and '90s when southern fish farmers began buying and selling them as great tools for keeping their ponds clear of certain snails.

Of course, by the time the black carp escaped from those catfish and hybrid bass ponds, it may have been too late to make them illegal.

Maybe it's because the fish can't read and don't know how to follow the rules.

We're spending millions building an electrified barrier to keep Asian carp from leaving the Mississippi River and taking over the Great Lakes.

At least one Asian carp already is here.

Ontario fisheries officials this month confirmed a fish caught this summer by a Sarnia commercial fishing boat in southern Lake Huron was a bighead carp.

Black and bighead carp are two of the four invasive Asian carp species every angler has to fear. The others are the silver carp and the grass carp.

You'll be disappointed to know the silver carp is the one famous for jumping out of the water and smacking boaters in the head. All four, though, have the potential to destroy fishing in the Great Lakes. They reproduce like crazy, eat everything and aggressively push other fish species out of the environment.

The carp that showed up in the Purdy's net is typical: Four feet long and hungry.

That's OK with David Asaro of Godfrey, Ill. He has decided 4-foot pest carp make great bait for catching even bigger blue catfish.

He fishes the Mississippi River. His urge to cut up big carp and use them for bait is a little bit of revenge: They've eaten or crowded out all the other baitfish.

"They're real bad right now," Asaro told the Belleville News Democrat. "It's hard to catch shad, and shad is something we've been fishing with all my life. All you're catching is little bitty shad and very few of them.

"Herring, you can't hardly get herring. Mooneye, forget it. But the Asian carp, they're everywhere. That's the worst fish I have ever seen in my life."

I'm not sure, but I suspect using Asian carp (and certain other pest species) as bait may be illegal in Michigan waters.

Illinois State Senator Mike Jacobs may think Asaro is fishing for the wrong species. He said Mississippi River fishermen need to develop a market - and a taste - for Asian carp.

He also wants to make sure Asian carp is on the menu at Illinois state prisons.

"Some people say that smoked, it's better than salmon," Jacob said.

Contact Michael Eckert at meckert@gannett.com or (810) 989-6264.

 

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