Study: Asian Carp Pose Great Threat to Great Lakes

Posted at 10:26 PM, Oct 29, 2013
and last updated 2013-10-29 22:54:57-04

WEST MICHIGAN — New evidence is showing that Asian carp are able to reproduce in the Great Lakes, threatening aquatic vegetation and the fresh-water ecosystem.

The threat of Asian carp moving into the Great Lakes has been looming with increased reports of grass carp in Lake Erie.  There were still questions if they were able to reproduce and survive in the Great Lakes, until now.

For the first time, it appears Asian carp are able to spawn and survive in our Great Lakes watershed.

That’s according to the U.S. Geological Survey stating Ohio fishermen caught four grass carp in the Sandusky River, a tributary of Lake Erie.

“There will be many more rivers than we originally guessed within the Great Lakes that would be adequate for Asian carp,” Chapman said.

Now, grass carp don’t pose as significant of a threat as the bighead or silver carp, but they  could alter our ecosystem permanently.

This new finding is also significant because the young of bigheaded carp are very similar to grass carp, meaning the destructive bigheaded carp could likely survive in the Great Lakes as well.

“They hurt things, they hurt people.  They break stuff in the boats, they get everything messy with blood and poop and it’s all horrible,” Chapman said about the bigheaded carp.

Grass carp, on the other hand, are vegetarians that feed off aquatic vegetation and aren’t as destructive as the bighead or silver carp we’ve seen jumping into boats.

“Grass carp, should they become highly abundant, would remove most kinds of aquatic plants,” Duane Chapman of the USGS said.

That would threaten the habitats of fish, ducks and birds in the Great Lakes and impact Michigan’s $7 billion fishing industry.

Northern pike like to spawn on aquatic vegetation. If you lose that vegetation to carp, you’re going to have less northern pike.  This would impact the Grand River and Saint Joseph River in West Michigan.

Four grass carp in one river may seem small, but Asian carp reproduce rapidly.  One can produce up to a million babies a year.

This has the USGS working on ways to control the population if Asian carp were to become established in the Great Lakes.