A mass poisoning to find Asian carp in Chicago was a bust — though it killed 50 tons of other fish.
It’s good news that none of the invading carp showed up in the mass killoff. But it’s certainly no reason to let up on the fight.
The poisoning operation aimed at preventing Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes turned up dead fish from 40 species — none of them Asian carp. The result suggests that few, if any, Asian carp are in the Chicago area shipping lock that many in Michigan and other neighboring states wants closed.
A lot of us Great Lakers may feel akin to Chicken Little.
Don’t. Scientists have detected genetic material (DNA) from Asian carp in the area of the locks. That means that they’ve been in the lakes or at least their bodily excretions have cleared the locks.
The Asian carp’s track record is clear. Asian carp were brought to the United States in the 1970s to help with algae at fish farms and sewage treatment plants. They escaped and have been making their way north through the Mississippi River Basin. The species will make it into the Great Lakes and eventually, into Little Traverse Bay, if we do nothing to stop it.
These are the giant fish you may have seen in videos leaping out of the water and knocking folks out of their boats. They can weigh up to 100 pounds and eat 40 percent of their body weight a day in plankton — that’s what most other fish eat, by the way.
These fish are threatening Michigan’s $7 billion fishing industry and also tourism. Who knows what the impact will be to other Great Lakes states, and to states where waters from the Great Lakes flow in rivers and streams?
Michigan has tried to use the DNA evidence found in Lake Michigan outside Chicago to lead a fight, with other states, to close the shipping locks connecting the Mississippi to the lakes. But Illinois and the Obama administration have argued the closure would cost Chicago’s economy $4.7 billion over two decades.
While cargo can be shipped overland to solve Chicago’s gripe in part, there’s no “work around” for the rest of the Great Lakes region once the Great Lakes have been destroyed.
We must stay vigilant, on the offensive.
For now, the Army Corps of Engineers will continue with its $78.5 million strategy to help control the spread of the carp. The plan calls for a variety of actions including fish harvesting, chemical control and the construction of an electronic barrier.
Is that enough insurance coverage?
Nothing will replace the Great Lakes’ ecosystem once the Asian carp gets through with it. We urge people who care about the lakes and our state economy to let their governmental leaders know, loud and clear, that those locks must be closed while a permanent solution is worked out.
It’s a cliché but it’s fitting: Close the barn door before the horses get loose.
— PETOSKEY NEWS