The problem of Asian carp invading the Great Lakes and outcompeting local fish populations for food has been an ongoing one, so Friday the US Congress called for a temporary solution to strengthen defenses and protect native fish until a more permanent plan can be agreed upon.
The new measure would use additional structures to control upstream movement of fish at the Brandon Road Lock and Dam, located on the Des Plaines River in Joliet, Ill., just 40 miles from Chicago.
Supporters of the legislation describe Brandon Road as a “choke point,” meaning the location would block Asian carp as well as other exotic species from reaching Lake Michigan, and potentially spreading to other Great Lakes.
“This is important work that will develop solutions that can be applied elsewhere in the Chicago waterway system – and throughout the Great Lakes and the nation as a whole – to prevent damaging aquatic species from expanding into other water bodies,” Jon Allen, vice chairman of the Great Lakes Commission, which endorsed the bill, said in a statement.
According to the National Wildlife Federation, Asian carp were first introduced into the United States in the 1970s to clean up fresh water, and rapidly reproduced thereafter. The fish, which can grow as much as 100 pounds, are a growing problem, with fisherman catching 20 carp on a normal day, and a whopping 180 fish on a good day. They compete with local fish and mussels for food resources, such as plankton.
Congress and others are increasingly worried for native fish species because once Asian carp – like silver and bighead carp – become rooted in an ecosystem, they are virtually impossible to eradicate. This could devastate the Great Lakes’ $7 billion fishing industry.
To counter the carp, researchers have been testing various strategies to prevent a Great Lakes invasion, including sound barriers, food attractants, sonar fishing tracking and commercial fishing.
These techniques may be considered as Congress aims to land on a permanent solution to the issue at hand, a goal of theirs according to the new bill.