Carp threaten Great Lakes ecosystem,
Posted March 29th, 2005
Another exotic species of fish is threatening to wreak
havoc on the lucrative Great Lakes fishing industry. But,
even though the threat is real, experts aren't sure exactly
how to stop it.
Sometimes growing to more than 120 pounds, the Asian
Carp are considered a bold, destructive invader species,
capable of devouring all the food needed by native species.
Described as fish-farm escapees from the Mississippi
Delta, the rapidly-multiplying Asian carp have been making
their way north for more than a decade.
And that has those with a special interest in the Great
"It would be very devastating," Herb Gray told
CTV News, speculating on their arrival in the massive
As Canadian Chair of the International Joint Commission
on Canada-U.S. transboundary issues such as air and water,
Gray has had time to contemplate the consequences.
"In fact, if Asian carp got into the Great Lakes
and began breeding ... it would mean the end of the domestic
species," he said.
And he's clearly not alone in his concern. As U.S. federal
fisheries expert Jerry Rasmussen told CTV, the carp are
demanding of their environment.
"A large critter like that consumes a lot of food,"
Rasmussen explained, noting their "tremendous biomass."
"That takes a tremendous amount of food out of the
water, and it has to come from somewhere."
If they find their way into the Great Lakes, it is feared
they could cripple the multibillion-dollar sport and commercial
fishing industry there.
Wary of their advance up the Illinois River toward Lake
Michigan, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have built
an electrified barrier near Chicago.
The $9.1 million US barrier has been designed to contain
the spread of the exotic aquatic life, but unfortunately
there's no easy way to test its effectiveness.
Critics have already said the barrier will do little
to stop transport ships from ferrying the Asian Carp's
eggs in the ballast tanks they frequently fill and empty
to level their loads.
The Asian Carp is not the only foreign species to threaten
the Great Lakes ecosystem. In fact, it is just one of
close to 200 species introduced by foreign ships since
the St. Lawrence Seaway opened the Great Lakes to seagoing
traffic less than 50 years ago.
With that in mind as the 2005 shipping season returned
to business last week, the environmental coalition Great
Lakes United called on the Canadian and American governments
to adhere to a strict new international convention on
ballast water recently adopted by the International Maritime
With files from CTV News