News / USA

    Invasive Asian Carp Threaten Ecosystems in Midwestern Waterways

    Asian Carp jumping in the Illinois River, where they are overtaking the native fish
    Asian Carp jumping in the Illinois River, where they are overtaking the native fish

    Asian Carp now outnumber native fish in many areas of the United States and their expansion particularly threatens the fragile ecosystems of the Great Lakes.

    In an effort to control algae growth, catfish farmers in the southern United States introduced Asian Carp - a species of fish found in China - into their ponds in the 1970s.  Flooding throughout the last several decades washed the fish out of those ponds into other waterways.  Gradually, the species multiplied and spread north along major rivers such as the Mississippi and the Illinois.  

    Anywhere else in the world, this would be a fisherman's dream, rivers so abundant with fish they jump out of the water, and often right into the boat.  But these are not the kind of fish that get anglers in the United States excited.  They are known as Asian Carp and the explosion of their population in the Illinois River is a concern to large-river ecologist Kevin Irons.

    "They compete with every other fish that's in our water," said Irons.  Irons is part of a team with the Illinois Natural History Survey, which is spearheading an effort to kill or contain Asian Carp before they reach Lake Michigan.  The group routinely patrols the Illinois River near Havana - searching for Asian Carp, which are not hard to find.  To understand where and how much the invasive species is spreading, Irons and his crew use a method known as electro fishing to stun the Asian Carp so they can be captured and counted.

    "There's as many as 4,100 adult silver carp per mile here on the middle Illinois River," said Irons.  "So they very quickly turn into about 13 tons per mile, and when you look at an eighty mile [129 kilometer] reach, it's phenomenal how much bio mass is taken up by these Asian Carp."

    There are two types of Asian Carp in the Illinois River - bighead and silver.  Both eat the same food as other - native - fish, such as catfish and buffalo.  Asian Carp can weigh up to 45 kilograms each, and eat up to half their body weight in food per day.

    Gradually, Asian Carp edge out the other native species in the river until they are one of the only kinds of fish left.  It is catastrophic to the natural ecosystem, and a problem for the fishing industry in the U.S., which looks at Asian Carp as an undesirable fish to eat.

    "Americans in general don't like a bony fish," said Irons.  "The rest of the world eats silver carp, they're actually the most cultured fish in the world.  And they're overfished almost everywhere because they are so desired for human consumption."

    With no natural predator in the water, and almost no domestic market to sell them as food, Asian Carp threaten to expand into waterways through the city of Chicago, and into Lake Michigan, about 320 kilometers northwest of Havana.

    "This is where we decided to draw the battle lines," said John Rogner, the assistant director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.  "We have an electrical barrier in place that we are confident will keep them from moving en masse into the Great Lakes.  And then our job is to put out the brush fires so to speak.  The fish that, for one reason or another, that found their way past the barrier, we suppressed them and try to take them out of the system to keep them from establishing in Lake Michigan."

    In June, a bighead Asian Carp was found above the electrical barrier about ten kilometers from Lake Michigan.  The discovery raised the level of concern that the invasive species was closer to Lake Michigan than previously thought.  But the Illinois Department of Natural Resources is confident their containment measures are working, as they have yet to find more Asian carp above the electric barrier.

    You May Like

    US-Russia Tensions Complicate Syria War

    With a shared enemy and opposing allies, Russia and the US are working to avoid confrontation

    Video Re-opening Old Wounds in Beirut's Bullet-riddled Yellow House

    Built in neo-Ottoman style in 1920s, it is set to be re-opened in Sept. as ‘memory museum’ - bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity

    Cambodian-Americans Lobby for Human Rights Resolution

    Resolution condemns all forms of political violence in Cambodia, urges Cambodian government to end human rights violations, calls for respect of press freedom

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora