A U.S. Geological Survey and Bowling Green University report released Monday confirmed that at least one species of Asian carp – grass carp – are reproducing in the Great Lakes watershed.
Grass carp found in Lake Erie were determined to be capable of reproduction. Though not as destructive as silver or bighead carp, grass carp are also an invasive species, require similar conditions for reproduction and survival and can also disrupt aquatic habitats.
“I can safely say that my members would say the failure of the federal government to act on permanent separation of the Great Lakes from the Mississippi River is . . . unconscionable,” said Erin McDonough, executive director of Michigan United Conservation Clubs, in an interview with MIRS News. She also suggested that the state create an emergency response fund to contain Asian carp.
Asian carp disrupt aquatic ecosystems by out-competing native species for species at the bottom of the food chain, starving out species higher up like popular sport fish. If they become established in the Great Lakes, they could disrupt the region’s $7 billion sport fishing industry as well as the ecology of the lakes.
Originally imported to southern United States aquaculture facilities to clean retention ponds, Asian carp escaped into the Mississippi River and have proceeded steadily northward, disrupting the river’s fishery along the way. They’ve been found in the Chicago Sanitary and Shipping Canal which artificially connects the Mississippi and Great Lakes watersheds and their eDNA, which detects their presence, has been found on the lakeward side of electronic barriers designed to keep them out of Lake Michigan.
The Lake Erie finding is the first time a species of Asian carp has been confirmed to be reproducing within the Great Lakes watershed.
Logo courtesy Michigan United Conservation Club