Dave Reid

Asian Carp are a Real Threat to Lake Michigan

By - Jan 4th, 2010 01:35 pm
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Lake Michigan

Lake Michigan

Lake Michigan faces a wide range of threats, but the most pressing is the latest in a long line of invasive species, Asian Carp.  The issue isn’t simply that these fish consume the food supply of salmon, trout, bass, and perch, destroying the ecosystem in the process, but the havoc that these fish create is a danger to recreational users.  These fish can grow up to 100 pounds and have a dangerous habit of jumping out of the water when disturbed by boats.  This isn’t simply an environmental threat, it is a threat to the recreational boating industry, the $7 billion Great Lakes fishing industry, use of our beaches, our jewel of a lakefront, and in fact Milwaukee’s quality of life.

The Asian carp have been working their way up the Mississippi River and its tributaries, and are now just a few short miles short of gaining access to Lake Michigan. The Asian Carp are only held back, in theory, by an electric barrier.  A flood, barrier outage or failure, and the Asian Carp will quickly enter Lake Michigan.  Unfortunately, it looks like the electric barrier has already failed as DNA from Asian Xarp has been found beyond the barrier.  As the solution of electrifying the water to stop the carp from proceeding into Lake Michigan via the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal doesn’t appear to be a viable solution a permanent solution is needed.

In recent days, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin have taken Illinois to court, calling for an immediate closing of the locks in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal with the goal of sealing off Lake Michigan.  Certainly this is a dramatic step to take and would be detrimental to Chicago’s barge industry, and if permanently closed, it would force Chicago to revamp, at great expense, its handling of waste water.  It is unfortunate that it has come to this, but the threat to the Lake Michigan and all of the Great Lakes is simply too big to ignore.  It is time to close the locks, at least until a permanent solution can be developed.


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