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Asian carp have been making their way up the Mississippi River system for years after escaping from fish farms and wastewater treatment ponds in the southern U.S.They’re knocking on the door of the Great Lakes, and a number of people are concerned about what could happen if carp become established in the region.In this five-part series, we’ll take a look at what officials are trying to do to keep the fish out, what might happen if carp get in, and why some people want to turn carp into a business opportunity.

Congress bans an Asian carp that is already here

Current distribution of the Bighead Carp
USGS
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They're banned, but they're already here. Current distribution of the Bighead Carp in the U.S.

Update December 3rd 5:13 pm:

Marc Gaden of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission says "as far as I know, no one thinks there are any Asian Carp in Lake Erie." He says Lake Erie is colored red in the USGS map above because two Bighead carp were found in commercial fishman's nets several years ago. They colored the entire Lake red based on these two incidents.

December 1st 5:27 pm:

Congress passed a law the bans the importation of the Bighead carp. It's one of four species of Asian carp that have invaded America's big rivers. The carp are now threatening to invade America's Great Lakes (if they haven't already). One Bighead carp specimen was found beyond an electric barrier designed to protect the Great Lakes from the invasive fish. The USGS map above shows at least a report of Bighead carp in Lake Erie. We'll follow up on that.

Michigan Senator Carl Levin introduced the legislation in the Senate in 2009. It passed and moved on to the House, which passed it today.

In a statement, Levin said,

“The U.S. Congress took an important step today in the effort to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes. These fish pose a real, clear and growing threat to the Great Lakes and I will continue working with my colleagues to ensure tools like the Asian Carp Prevention and Control Act and others will be available as we counter this threat. The devastating effects Asian carp could have on the Great Lakes are not fully known, and I want to make sure they are never realized.”

So the law bans the importation of the fish, but it's unclear how that helps today. The map above shows where the Bighead carp is found. And if you notice, the USGS has Lake Erie colored red with this note as to where the fish was found "Lake Erie, Ohio, off Cedar Point (T. Cavender, personal communication)."

Mark Brush was Michigan Radio’s Digital Media Director. He succumbed to a year-long battle with glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer, in March 2018. He was 49 years old.
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