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Great Lakes Article:

Canada urged to join U.S. battle against Great Lakes carp invasion
 KIM LUNMAN
Globe and Mail
Posted 10/04/2002


OTTAWA -- Canada is being urged to join the United States in the fight against alien fish.

A U.S.-Canada commission on shared waterways is calling on both governments to help avert the "serious threat" to boundary waters posed by North America's latest invasive species, the Asian carp.

The International Joint Commission, which oversees shared U.S. and Canadian waters, warns that the Asian carp could destroy the Great Lakes ecosystem.

"We clearly have deep concerns about the Asian carp because it's such a voracious eater and breeds like a rabbit," U.S. chairman Dennis Schornack said in Ottawa yesterday.

"We don't want to turn the Great Lakes into a carp pond."

The fish, which can grow to a metre long and weigh as much as 50 kilograms, steal food from the bottom of the food chain and deprive native species of nutrition.

So far, at least three Asian carp have been found in the Great Lakes, two on the U.S. side of Lake Erie and one on the Canadian side.

Asian carp were imported to the United States in 1972 by an Arkansas catfish farmer. They became popular in the South and either escaped or were introduced into streams in the Missouri and Mississippi river systems.

Herb Gray, Canadian chairman of the commission, said both countries "have to be vigilant" against an Asian carp invasion.

"It will lead to destruction of a native species," he said. "We believe that action should be taken now, and the necessary money should be spent to stop it."

In its most recent report, the commission recommended "more aggressive steps to end the invasion of alien species." Among its suggestions: mandatory regulations for ships' ballast-water management, research and a second electronic barrier to keep Asian carp from getting into lakes.

One such barrier has been set up in an Illinois canal linking the Mississippi River to Lake Michigan. It forces fish to retreat by emitting a small electric shock. Canada was not asked to contribute funds to maintaining the electronic barrier, which costs about $700,000 (U.S.) a year.

The joint commission wants the two governments to install a second electrical barrier on the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal.

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