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America’s Great Lakes And The Asian Carp Menace

Asian Carp and America’s Great Lakes. We’ll look at the struggle to hold off an onslaught.

In this June 13, 2012 file photo an Asian carp, jolted by an electric current from a research boat, jump from the Illinois River near Havana, Ill., during a study on the fish's population. Bills moving through the Minnesota Legislature on Thursday, March 27, 2014 would require official state materials to refer to the troublesome fish as "invasive carp." (AP)

In this June 13, 2012 file photo an Asian carp, jolted by an electric current from a research boat, jump from the Illinois River near Havana, Ill., during a study on the fish’s population. Bills moving through the Minnesota Legislature on Thursday, March 27, 2014 would require official state materials to refer to the troublesome fish as “invasive carp.” (AP)

Take your motorboat down a Midwestern waterway infested with Asian carp and you will know see the problem in a hurry.  It’s like a horror movie.  The big, scaly fish explode from the water on all sides.  They look like giant, airborne piranha, thrashing and leaping high in the air.  A threat to life and limb that leaves a huge, bloody mess of fish in the bottom of the boat.  They are taking over Midwest waterways.  They drive out other life.  Now they threaten the Great Lakes, the biggest collection of fresh water lakes on Earth.  This hour On Point:  the epic struggle to keep invasive Asian carp out of the Great Lakes.

– Tom Ashbrook


John Flesher, Great Lakes environmental reporter for the Associated Press. (@JohnFlesher)

Dave Wethington, engineer and project manager with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. (@CorpsPMDave)

Joel Brammeier, chief executive officer of the Alliance for the Great Lakes. (@JoelBrammeier)

Lynn Muench, senior vice president of regional advocacy at the American Waterways Operators.

From Tom’s Reading List

Associated Press: Illinois, seven other states agree to take aim at invasive species — “Amid disagreement over the best long-term solution and how to pay for it, the mutual aid deal reached Saturday empowers the states and Canadian provinces to share staff and expertise to do what they can to keep Asian carp from reaching the Great Lakes and imperiling the fishing industry.”

Nashville Public Radio: As Many As 500,000 Asian Carp Die-Off In Cumberland River In Kentucky – “Several sources in Kentucky are reporting on a massive and sudden die-off of silver carp in the Cumberland River below the Lake Barkley dam, downriver from Nashville and Clarksville. Estimates of “tens of thousands”, maybe as many as 500,000 of the invasive Asian carp species, are believed to have perished in a 24-hour period.”

Christian Science Monitor: Asian carp are already in Great Lakes, new report suggests –”Researchers report discovering traces of carp DNA in the western basin of Lake Erie as well as in a smaller lake well beyond the electric barrier that is supposed to fence the carp into the Mississippi River Basin. The scientists note that Asian carp have been caught in both locations previously – though not in large enough numbers to suggest an infestation.”

Watch A Video Of Asian Carp Leaping Around A Moving Boat

Track The Spread Of Asian Carp In The United States

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  • Alchemical Reaction

    Asian carp are ALREADY in the Great Lakes. Spending millions of dollars to stop something that has already happened? Doesn’t make sense.

    • northeaster17

      Why not spend millions to protect billion dollar resources. Though I’m not sure how effective any eradication program might be.

    • Charles

      I concur.
      The battle is lost, the carp have taken over American waters with alarming ease.

      There’s no point in throwing good money after this problem, all we can do is try to learn from this episode for the (inevitable) next time.

  • AC

    why not smoke, grill, fillet or bake them into extinction?
    ….maybe temporarily relocate fishermen/crews and equipment from areas where limits are so tight from over-fishing that it is putting them out of business anyway. win-win all parties?….

    • HonestDebate1

      I’ve heard they are really crappie to eat. Speaking of which, the crappie which are tasty are starting to bite so I think I’ll go fishing.

      • adks12020

        I’ve heard the same thing about taste but apparently the notion is unwarranted. http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/2014/04/30/invasive-carp-clobber-catfish-in-taste-test/

        • HonestDebate1

          That’s good to know. I always heard the best way to eat them was to stuff them with cow manure, cook at 350 for an hour, let cool then throw away the fish and eat the manure. I guess you can’t believe everything.

          • McMug_Pun

            We (Asians) like to make broth out of them. Yum yum!

        • Jeff

          “Asian carp performed significantly better than catfish but significantly worse than tilapia on Overall Liking,” they didn’t even compare it to walleye, crappies, perch, northern pike, trout or salmon…which are the most common fish that people actually fish for in the Great Lakes region. Even that taste test showed that it performed better than a bottom feeder (catfish) but far worse against tilapia…which is a very bland fish compared to those others I mentioned.

          • adks12020

            This was just an example. The study was done in Missouri. Why would a study about fish in Missouri compare the taste of carp to fish from the Great Lakes region? In that area of Missouri they eat a lot of catfish so that’s what they compared it to as a way to show people their assumptions about the taste of Asian carp are unfounded.
            All I know is that people better find ways to use them or all the fish you mentioned are in trouble. Whether it’s people or pets eating them or they are used for fertilizer or whatever. They have to be caught and used somehow.

          • Jeff

            See today’s topic: America’s Great Lakes And The Asian Carp Menace. Everyone not in the South understands that catfish is awful. What kind of pets are eating walleyes? I can go out to a lake nearby and catch as much crappie as I’d like…walleyes have issues in some lakes but you can always find them if you go to a lake far enough north.

          • adks12020

            I see the topic. The point of the post is that they don’t taste as bad as many people think. Also, I think many, many people would dispute your assertions about catfish, not just people from the south.
            As far as pet food goes…pet food often contains fish. If people don’t want to eat them they could be used for that purpose or for fertilizer.
            Also, I think you’re missing the point that Asian carp will ruin the ecosystem for the fish you mention by destroying the food source for small fish that sustain game fish like Pike, walleye, perch, etc. If something isn’t done about the carp population fishing in the region will change completely.

    • Charles

      Apparently you can sell them for about 2 bucks a pound on the Chinese market. I’ve recently entertained daydreams about selling all my stuff to buy a barge and float the Mississip’ catching carp. I mean, they’re basically free money.

    • J__o__h__n

      You left out fry them. Americans will eat anything if you fry it.

      • northeaster17

        Add Bacon…..

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    Send all the Asian products home: car, people, drywall, catfood, toothpaste, the whole yin & yang.

  • Coastghost

    How’s Lake Michigan doing with its zebra mussels? They’d begun to obstruct water intake and discharge pipes twenty-something years ago all along the shore, was their spread through lake shore communities ever stopped?

    • B.J.D

      No it hasnt been stopped and the ecology of the lake has changed significantly, not necessarily ruined, just changed. They are prolific filter feeders and the waters in Lake Michigan have never been clearer. Good news for bass fisherman.

      • Coastghost

        My near-decade in Chicago left me wondering how long Lake Michigan could continue to be construed as “freshwater”, given the tons and tons and tons of road salt that I have to assume winds up in the lake following each season of winter driving.

        • Alchemical Reaction

          And the bull sharks.

  • John Cedar

    Carp racism is an ugly thing.

    • J__o__h__n

      I think it is technically “speciesism.”

  • B.J.D

    I do a few Lake Michigan charters a year and most of the captains I speak to think the Asian Carp wont thrive in the great lakes like they do in tributary rivers. They have been found in Lake Erie for the past decade and they dont seem to be taking over the Lake.

    • TFRX

      Do the Asian Carp threaten other species which spawn in tributaries and live in the Great Lakes?

      (PS My idea of fish comes in cutlet form, so I’m depending on your expertise.)

      • B.J.D

        I know the Salmon are stocked by the DNR and the DNR had to stock the lake trout back in the 80′s because of the lamphrey but asian carp are herbivores.

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    With China surpassing the USA in global economic hegemony by the end of this year, America will go totally carp. Carp lawn furniture, deck decorations, outdoor lamp fixtures, stained glass, hood ornaments, clothing accessories, eyeglass frames.
    Civilized people may even eat it one day!

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    We need the Great Wall of Mexico. Mexicans come in — carp go out.*

    * Unless they’ve spawned here. It’d be unfair to send the fry and fingerlings home simply because the parents are here.. “undocumented.”

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    Arkansas! Where Oklahoma goes to dump.

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    Moo shu fish heads. Yum. Yum.

  • seszoo

    I remember before they were around and weren’t they introduced to kill weeds in ponds without useing chemicals ? Any way, what we need is some good easy reciepes so people will eat them with out the stigma of eating carp , Secondly if they are going to try something like building fish walls can we do it as a jobs program maybe like the old CCC programs ,that way we can put some people to work at a good price and work on keeping these fish out of our Great Lakes , Though the best way is probably just to declare open season on them ..LOL ..Maybe there is something though for skarping sport , Where’s wide world of sports when you need them

    • JGC

      Recipe for seszoo, adapted from Paula Deen:

      Beer Battered Carp ‘n Chips

      1.) Find an Asian carp. Catch him in a net, and whack him over the head. Filet him.

      2.) In large bowl, pour in one bottle of beer. Into yourself, pour another bottle of beer.

      3.) Sift 1 cup of flour into the bowl, whisk until just combined, and stir in 1/2 teaspoon of PAULA DEEN’S HOUSE SEASONING.

      4.) Pat carp filets dry, season with salt and pepper, and coat the fish in the beer batter. Season yourself with another bottle of beer.

      5.) Fry the carp in oil heated to 375 degrees F, turning frequently, until deep golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes.

      6.) Serve fried carp with a generous handful of potato chips and another beer.

      • seszoo

        Thanks , will try ,just have to pick up the beer , Are they easier to catch withthe beer .? LOL

        • JGC

          Not easier; just a lot more fun.

          Bon appetit, mon ami!

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    Thank goodness our country isn’t running out of Bubbas.
    Why not just shoot ‘em with your Glock?

    • Ray in VT

      A truly abundant, and somewhat sustainable, American natural resource.

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    Put them in southern suits and elect them to Congress. Who’d notice the difference?

  • HalEBurton

    Can sea lampreys be trained to parasitize them?

  • HalEBurton

    Cat food?

  • SuziVt

    Typical humans exploiting all animals. First they have to introduce species into a foreign environment. By now everyone should know that practice backfires. Now that they’ve overpopulated, due to human intervention, they want to come up with a quick fix. No doubt they’ll come up with another solution that will rear it’s ugly head some day. I find the videos quite offensive. While I can appreciate wanting to rid the lakes of that species, laughing at plowing through them with a motor boat & watching them get caught, thrashing around out of water, is cruel & insensitive. This is just more evidence of humans screwing up the environment, whining about it & then amusing themselves at the suffering of the fish. The carp are innocent. Man is the usual villain. I expect them to get rid of them, but show a little respect for life. Rednecks indeed.

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    I live in Pittsburgh. Not willing to pay one buck to keep carp out of the Mon and the Al. They’re probably already there, anyway.

  • Dr Michael Becker

    It would be moronic to spend a grand sum of money attempting to keep these problem fish out of the Great Lakes! I can hear all the cowboys with access to these giant lakes just twitching in excited anticipation of getting into the violent action – they will sneak them in no matter what physical barriers are built.

    It would also be a joke to assume that The Corps of Engineers are not just twitching w/the cowboys but salivating at the idea of multibillion dollars at their disposal to muck up the Lakes just as they did the Mississippi River, ask New Orleans.

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    The US Ag Dept. could issue carp stamps. And pay the permanently unemployed to catch them. Like a WPA for modern times.

    We could put out of work artists to work painting murals, taking photographs, writing folks songs, and creating sculpture.. of carp. “Let Us Now Praise Famous Fish.” Woody Guthrie would understand.

    • JGC

      Cliven Bundy is being interviewed by Hannity, and is suggesting local sheriffs round up “those” people off their porches, and make themselves useful by catching the illegal immigrant Asian carp.

  • M S

    How about genetic modification?

    • AC

      like a 50s movie – Carpzilla ! ! !

      • M S

        I bet Monsanto could get them to not reproduce.

  • Bart caruso

    Holy Moly ! Gotta ask …are the edible ? “Like shooting fish in a barrel.”

    • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

      Anything is if you’re hungry enough. Hoober Doober

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    Asian Carp: taking over the waterways. Like humans are doing to the entire planet. Predacious.

    • Alchemical Reaction

      If you are really that concerned, why have you not self-terminated? (I’m not advocating suicide, I’m just asking on philosophical grounds.)

  • TheDailyBuzzherd

    Anyone remember the Gypsy Moth invasions of The ’70s and ’80s? That was the first experiment I recall in which a natural deterrent was introduced to control a pest population, in this case a kind of wasp which ate the moth eggs. The Asian Carp introduction was an example of good intentions gone bad since someone didn’t research the species well enough.

    • nj_v2

      Not sure what the relevance of gypsy moth is here.

      Gypsy moth Lymantria dispar was deliberately brought to the U.S. from Europe in 1869 as a disease-restant, highly productive silk worm.

      It escaped to the wild and feeds on many different deciduous trees. Not appealing as a food for most birds, it reproduces in large numbers and can defoliate large areas.

      Experimental releases of fungi pathogenic to the gypsy moth have been done, beginning in the early 20th century, but none of them seemed to work well.

      Recently, populations of the moth have collapsed in most of the eastern U.S. The cause seems to be one of those strains of fungus released over 100 years ago, but no one seems quite sure why it is having an effect on the moth now.

  • Alchemical Reaction

    Asian carp are ALREADY in the Great Lakes. This was proven three yeas ago. Now watch for the precipitous rise in bull shark population in the great lakes, since they have a new and abundant food source.

  • nj_v2

    I’m pretty sure there are no Asian carp in any Massachusetts waterways.

  • Just sayin’

    Has anyone asked Canada what they think about the carp?

  • Madoff

    look to other countries that dealt with it. AND solved it. your experts said so much nonsense. Slow day?

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