Asian Invasion: Asian Carp in the Great Lakes Basin

By John Zagar, Sustainable Plant Systems Major, Turfgrass Specialization

I grew up on the shores of Lake Erie.  As a kid my friends and I would spend our summer days at the lake fishing, swimming, jet skiing, and getting into all sorts of other shenanigans. I no longer live by the lake, but I still hold the same childhood love for the water and all the recreation and adventures that it offers.

I’m sure anyone else who has grown up by the lake, or any water source, share the exact sentiments that I do. That’s why I’d like to inform the public of an increasing threat to the Great Lakes basin, the Asian carp.

The Asian carp were originally introduced in the 1970s in aquaculture ponds in the south as a biological control. However, due to subsequent flooding and human activity, the Asian carp escaped into the Mississippi River and are now swimming their way into the Great Lakes.

The American Sportfishing Association is very concerned. The Asian carp have no natural predators and eat the base of the food chain. They are voracious eaters and prolific breeders, so it does not take long for these carp to reach the top of the food chain in their respective habitats.

Along the Mississippi, we’ve already seen many prized fisheries displaced with decline of walleye and rainbow trout in waters where the Asian carp have taken over. There has also been a strong correlation of algal blooms in waters where the carp are present too.

These carp are a major nuisance. Specifically, the Silver Carp, dubbed the “flying fish”, can jump out of the water, hitting and disturbing boaters and fisherman.

If this invasion is not contained, water recreation on the lakes, a 7-billion-dollar industry, may take a massive hit in the future.

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About the Author:

John Zagar is a student at The Ohio State University studying to earn a Sustainable Plant Systems Major with a specialization in Turfgrass. Along with his love for water sports, John is also a big food guy (especially fish), and would like to let you know that Asian carp is very low on the list of tasty freshwater fish.

This blog post was an assignment for Societal Issues: Pesticides, Alternatives and the Environment (PLNTPTH 4597). The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the class, Department of Plant Pathology or the instructor.

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