Fighting Asian Carp

Grass carp alone have been officially recorded in 45 states. Multiple organizations, such as the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Army Corp of Engineers, the U.S. Department of Transportation, environmental protection agencies, and universities, have all been working steadily to rid the nation’s waters of these fish.

From 2002 until 2011, the Army Corp of Engineers designed and put into place three electrical barriers to repel the fish from entering Lake Michigan.5 In 2012, the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee claimed to have made great strides in preventing this invasive species from reaching the Great Lakes.  Their methods ranged from the electrical dispersal barriers in operation to well over 40,000 hours of netting, electrofishing, and observation by experienced fisheries biologists to gain insight on further methods of control.2

Despite these efforts, in 2012 the first live fish was found past the electrical barriers in Lake Michigan.3  Now the Army Corps is scrambling to get another barrier in place to reinforce the ones already there.

According to the Watershed Council, the ultimate solution is to restore the ecological barrier between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River Basins to prevent invasive species from moving back and forth between the two bodies of water.  Studies are underway to evaluate separating the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River basins.

As of 2013, the U.S. government has designated almost $80 million dollars toward the problem of Asian carp. This designation of funds was issued in hopes of diffusing fighting among states over whether or not to permanently close shipping locks as a way of keeping the fish out of the Great Lakes.  Current standing calls for locks to be opened less and poison to be used more. This strategy has been criticized by Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, all of which have sued for the locks to be closed permanently.3