As you read this, thousands of Asian carp are swimming toward our Great Lakes. The Illinois River is already infested, and this invasive species has been found in other rivers flowing into Lake Michigan and Lake Erie. If they become established, our $7 billion fishing industry would be at risk along with many of the ways we enjoy our favorite lakes and rivers.
What are Asian carp? There are two species of Asian carp making their way to Lake Michigan-bighead carp and silver carp. The Asian carp were imported by catfish farmers in the 1970s to remove algae and other nutrients out of their ponds. During large floods in the early 1990s, many of the catfish farm ponds overflowed their banks, and the Asian carp were released into local waterways connected to the Mississippi River.
What’s the big deal? Studies show current protection efforts by the Army Corps of Engineers will not keep smaller carp out of the Great Lakes. Both species are well suited for our climate. They consume vast amounts of food and reproduce quickly and are wiping out native fish where they thrive. In Illinois, the Asian carp population has doubled every year since it has been in the Illinois River. The silver carp can jump 10 feet high which has resulted in numerous injuries to boaters. If the Asian carp does make it to the Lake Michigan it will:
As of today, Asian carp have NOT made a home in our Great Lakes, which means we still have time to stop them. But we cannot wait any longer to act, there is too much at stake. We must permanently separate the Great Lakes and Mississippi River waterways to prevent entry of these huge carp and other invasive species.
If we fail to act now, the Great Lakes may never recover from this invasion.
There are three things you can do to make a difference:
1. Sign and send back the postcards you received from Freshwater Future.
2. Sign our online petition; found at www.freshwaterfuture.org/asiancarp
3. Send the links to your friends and family and post our petition and postcards on Facebook.
If you would like to do more, please contact us for other volunteer opportunities.