Asian Carp

Asian Carp


The bigheaded (known to approach 100lbs) and silver Asian carp (that fly out of water when startled) are invasive species that are swimming toward our Great Lakes from the Mississippi River waters.

What’s the big deal?

Bighead and silver carp are well suited for our climate. They consume vast amounts of food, reproduce quickly and are wiping out native fish where they thrive. In Illinois, the Asian carp population has doubled every year since they swam into the Illinois River. If these invasive fish become established, our $7 billion regional fishing industry would be at risk along with our family past times and recreational enjoyment of our favorite lakes and rivers.

What is being done?

Right now a number of actions are underway in the short term to keep invasive carp out of the Great Lakes, the most important of which is the operation of an electric barrier outside Chicago in the canal. Although this electric barrier appears to be effective for now, it failed for 15 minutes during May 2012 and needs to be shut down periodically for maintenance. It does not keep out small fish, including baby Asian carp, or small fry.

What needs to be done?

Over 100 years ago, the Mississippi River and Great Lakes ecosystems were connected by a man-made canal.  Now, many scientists and experts believe that the only way to keep Asian carp and other invasive species from traveling between these two waterways is to construct physical barriers in several places and restore the naturally occurring divide that once kept their waters apart. To accomplish this, Congress must authorize the work and funding, which would be conducted by the Army Corps of Engineers.

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Images courtesy of Steven Huyser-Honig,
West Grand Boulevard Collaborative, & Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve.