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Nature & Environment Dangerous Fish: Asian Carp Posing Threat to Boaters in Mississippi River Waters

Dangerous Fish: Asian Carp Posing Threat to Boaters in Mississippi River Waters

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First Posted: Feb 19, 2014 11:08 AM EST
Leaping Asian Carp
Originally appearing in the U.S. back in the 70s, the Asian Carp were used in fish farms in the south. Their job was to provide a natural way to keep catfish ponds clean, but overpopulation has led to legislation issues over the now invasive fish species.
(Photo : LouisvilleUSACE)

Originally appearing in the U.S. back in the 70s, the Asian Carp were used in fish farms in the south. Their job was to provide a natural way to keep catfish ponds clean, but overpopulation has led to legislation issues over the now invasive fish species.

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Over time, the carp have made their way up the Mississippi River and arrived at the Great Lakes, where they are currently displacing native fish populations and posing a safety threat to water recreation activities. The Asian Carp can grow to be more than a yard long and weigh up to an average of 30 to 40 pounds. They can also leap high into the air, crashing into boats.

The National Wildlife Federation has noted that the Asian Carp pose a threat to the waters they inhabit and they want to begin efforts to mitigate their eventual presence in the Great Lakes region. They believe that the carp's migration can be halted if the Mississippi River Basin waterways are separated from the Great Lakes.

Now, Chicago plans to introduce an $18 billion defense plan to prevent the carp from overpopulating the Great Lakes and preserve the natural waters. The invasive fish inhabit the open waters of 23 states and experts fear that their presence in the Great Lakes will destroy the fishing and tourism industry. A carp can eat up to 20% of its body weight in plankton every day, which experts believe would eventually ruin the marine ecosystem in the Great Lakes.

Measures have already been taken in regards to the Asian Carp issue. $9 million was spent on an electric barrier that separated the waters of the Mississippi River and Lake Michigan to keep the carp out. The barricade had been broken because the carp were found beyond the electric barrier back in 2009. In this International Business Times article, a biologist with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources holds a meter-long 20 pound Asian Carp that was believed to have ripped through the electric barrier.

Hopefully the state of Illinois faces this issue before it's too late and the carp invade and overpopulate the wondrous waters of the Great Lakes.

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