Asian carp have been spotted in the Great Lakes system — despite multiple electric barriers erected along the Chicago waterways designed to keep the fish out.
The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation recently pledged $500,000 to find environmental solutions to prevent this ravenous species from threatening the Great Lakes’ ecosystem and jeopardizing the region’s $7 billion annual sports fishing industry.
Asian carp, capable of eating up to 40 percent of their body weight every day, have been working their way up the Mississippi River for decades.
Achieving sizes of up to 4-feet in length, carp destroy ecosystems by gorging themselves, and starving out other species.
“Chicago’s canals currently act as an ‘open door’ for invasive species to travel between two of America’s most important freshwater systems,” said William S. White, president and CEO of the Mott Foundation.
While addressing the Chicago waterway problem is critically important, White said, so is addressing other entry points for invasive species across the basin.
In June, the Associated Press reported that, for the first time ever, a 20-pound bighead carp was caught by a fisherman in Illinois’s Lake Calumet, on the South Side of Chicago–beyond the electric fence, and only six miles from Lake Michigan.
The proposed prevention project will bring together all key interests – shippers, citizen groups, businesses, agencies, boaters, tribes, and others – to help evaluate options for re-separating the Great Lakes and Mississippi River systems, as the natural barriers between these two watersheds were removed during the last century.
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