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Illinois hunting and fishing

A whole lot of carping

February 14, 2010 at 03:51 AM

Leave it to a slimy Asian carp to illuminate the equally slippery world of national politics.

Listen casually to the ongoing national debate about Asian carp and you might think folks around the Great Lakes are desperate to protect their pristine waters from a non-native species.

Since when? Since when has stopping the advance of non-native species become a priority in the Great Lakes?

Certainly not where it relates to the shipping industry, which has brought untold numbers of invaders to the Midwest in ship ballast since the St. Lawrence Seaway opened 51 years ago.

And certainly not where it relates to the $7 billion Lake Michigan fishing industry, much of which is based on the stocking of non-native salmon.

All in all, this latest uproar about the Great Lakes is decades too late.

Yes Asian carp pose a real threat. Should they invade the Great Lakes, boating and fishing would be impacted — something that has already happened along the Illinois, Mississippi and Missouri rivers.

So maybe there’s truth to the notion we can’t afford to do nothing. But in the grand scheme, that’s what will be achieved if the
Obama Administration shells out $78.5 million for what is basically a long-term study and questionable electronic barrier. The
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers won’t even need to dirty a shovel to blow through that chump change over the next few years.

By then bighead and silver carp will be swimming in Lake Michigan, if they aren’t already. Once there, the high-flying carp will join zebra mussels and round gobies — a few of the 57 species already transported through the Seaway in ballast water of ocean-going ships.

The reason Asian carp earn more headlines is because they are more obvious, as any boater who has been head-butted by a bighead can attest. We assume, after seeing a 30-pound silver carp leap out of the Illinois River, that they will surely do more damage than a few fingernail-sized mussels.

Not so say some experts.

“I’m glad to see people talking about Asian carp,” said Gary Fahnenstiel, a researcher with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “But, as an ecologist, when you look at the impacts of Seaway invaders like quagga mussels, zebra mussels, spiny water fleas and round gobies, and you compare those impacts to what those of the Asian carp are likely to be ... well, there is no comparison.”

Biologists estimate there are as many as 500 trillion quagga mussels covering the bottom of Lake Michigan. Compared to them, a few Asian carp look like relative pikers.

What’s more, there’s no guarantee closing locks that connect Lake Michigan to the Illinois River will keep carp out. Over the past few years, several Asian carp have been found in Chicago’s lagoons, most likely thanks to illegal releases.

What’s to stop that from happening directly into Lake Michigan, if it hasn’t already? Remember, Asian carp DNA has been found in the Calumet River system.

But OK. Block the locks if you must appease our northern neighbors.

If you are truly worried about the Great Lakes, it’s also time to stop the release of ship ballast.

Beyond that, find a way to deal with the carp once they reach the Great Lakes. Because they will, blocked locks or no blocked locks.

Build food processing plants to utilize this prolific fish. Create jobs for commercial anglers like Orion Briney and others.

Make the Corps develop carp-catching, fish-passage structures when it rebuilds locks and dams along the Illinois and Mississippi rivers.

Fund research to find a genetic way to attack Asian carp. In recent summers common carp along the Illinois River have been hammered by a virus that appears to impact only them. Could something similar be isolated that would kill Asian carp?

Be innovative.

But be resigned to the fact that, like so many of our waters, there’s very little left that’s native in the Great Lakes stew we’ve brewed.

Your CommentsComments :: Terms :: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Great read Jeff!

Posted by HawgNSonsTV on 02/14 at 06:52 PM

EXCELLENT!!!!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 02/15 at 08:00 AM

Well written article. Perhaps the Bighead carp with their fondness to eat mussels will work on the zebras and quaggas will be the only plus side to this issue. Regardless, the Corps of Engineers and all of the millions will not solve the problem. The COE does not have a track record of solveing environmental problems, their record is millions of dollars spent on studies, years to produce the reports and then repeat process again in 10 years.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 02/15 at 08:07 AM

The COE does not have a track record of solving environmental problems, their record is millions of dollars spent on studies, years to produce the reports and then repeat process again in 10 years…..... yes sir Colonel..its hard to find anyone that has anything to say positive about the COE..kinda like our dnr.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 02/15 at 09:11 AM

I think some people need to research the topic before they spout off. Asiatic Carp (Bighead/Silvers) don’t eat mussels!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 02/15 at 09:26 AM

As well, let me know when you guys have figured out how to solve the problem of controlling these fish. Complain all you want, but this won’t get the job done, this I’m certain.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 02/15 at 09:30 AM

You are correct ad, that was a typo on my part it should have indicated Black instead of Bighead.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 02/15 at 12:27 PM

In regards to being innovative, the ideas I mentioned have already been discussed, some years ago. But the carp did not become an important enough issue to pursue until they approached Lake Michigan. Sorry, but I don’t see spending money on a study as being innovative.

Posted by Jeff Lampe on 02/15 at 01:56 PM

Sorry, but I don’t see spending money on a study as being innovative…I agree I think the time to have stopped the invaders has long since past…...

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 02/15 at 04:51 PM

How else do you find out if it will work or not???

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 02/15 at 05:30 PM

i agree with find a use for these fish and then fish them into near extinction like everything else we have tried to utilize in the past. there isnt many things that us humans havent had a profound affect on once we have found something we wanted to utilize, so i say use these fish for something and dont regulate the harvest(control any bycatch tho so we dont hurt other species) and i think in a matter of time they will be decimated. also sue the states that originally had these species in unprotected farm ponds and make them pay for any studies not our state or federal government

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 02/15 at 06:31 PM

So it’s really a case of sour grapes?  The IL river has been devastated by the bighead carp, so let’s give up the great lakes too?

Pacific salmon are an import, but what about smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, siscowet lake trout, brook trout, muskie, northern pike, bluegill, crappie, channel catfish… you get the point.

It does appear that this is too little, too late - and we should (have) protect(ed) from ballast water imports. BUT - do we give up on the great lakes, or try to the the system stabilize?  We should be outraged that the money to be spent is a drop in the bucket and is being spent on “inaction”.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 02/16 at 07:23 AM

These guotes were taken out of an article in the Milwaukee- Wisconsin Journal Sentinal by Dan Egan (2/7/10). It’s a good read.

But the governors who called for the summit don’t just want to talk about carp; they want the Obama administration to tackle the larger issue of invasive species in the Great Lakes, which have become an ecological stew teeming with at least 185 foreign organisms

“They are aquatic vacuum cleaners,” says Charlie Wooley, deputy regional director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “They will come in and clean out our native fish and sport fish.”

But Fahnenstiel thinks the plankton-hogging quagga mussels already might have beaten the carp to the punch.
On Lake Huron, for example, changes since the mussel invasion essentially have destroyed the salmon fishery.
The fishery next door on Lake Michigan could be headed down a similar drain; Fahnenstiel’s research shows Lake Michigan’s spring phytoplankton levels have crashed by at least 70% in the last decade - that’s food upon which every fish species directly or indirectly depends.
“It’s going to be a famine for Asian carp in the Great Lakes,” Fahnenstiel predicts. “Ten years ago it would have been different.” (Same person Lampe quoted).
And another opinion….
Yet Asian carp expert Duane Chapman says neither the lakes nor the biologists who study them have ever seen anything like the ravenous and resourceful silver and bighead carp, which can grow beyond 50 pounds and have a knack for finding food where other fish fail.
“There has been a bioenergetics study that says that bighead and silver carp could not make it on what is available in the open waters of Lake Michigan,” says Chapman, biologist for the U.S. Geological Survey. “But that model does not include other feeding options that (the carp) have.”
Chapman says the fish can thrive on toxic blue-green algae that even quagga mussels reject. They’ll also eat the sewage-like Cladophora that smothers Lake Michigan beaches in late summer. They may even eat mussel excrement.
“Are we certain that Asian carps could make a go of it Lake Michigan? No,” he says. “Should you be worried about it? Yes.”

And another…
“They’re not going to dominate the deep, cold portions of the lakes; that’s not their bag,” says Mike Hansen, a professor of fisheries at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and chairman of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission. “That doesn’t mean they won’t find a home here and won’t cause problems for some parts of the Great Lakes.”

Yep sounds like all the experts are in agreement, the sky is going to fall over the Great Lakes because of this carp. This sounds like a job for a Global Warming guru like A. Gore to come out of hiding and clean up. There might even be a movie in it.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 02/16 at 10:42 AM

lets put a tax free bounty on all invaisive
  species. this will help the economy and maybe we can find a way to turn the fish into some type of
fuel?

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 02/16 at 10:56 AM

Hmm well I have an idea from history and its working in the same region they come from, why not make it worth peoples time to harvest them. Nothing has ever been as effective as over harvesting, which is why we have limits on game. Sure they will probably never all be gone, but I’m will to bet this would be way more effective than millions in studies and yet another barrier.
..
Seems kinda obvious to me they have no faith in the barriers working anyway, why else would they be throwing this much money at it if they worked? So why plan to build another? I guess wasting millions makes some feel warm and fuzzy.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 02/16 at 05:35 PM

Classic “time to go”!  As a matter of fact, Asian Carp may be responsible fo the Climate change!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 02/19 at 08:35 AM

im pretty sure asian carp were responsible for the standing corn durring deer season. wow its not hard to figure out how to get rid of them you take them out of the water as quickly as possible put a price on them so the state will make money on comm fishing lisences then fishermen sell to processing plants who sell the oils and the rest for fertilizer and grind it up and serve it up for all the inmates in ill. that will lower the crime rate have to eat all that crap.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 02/23 at 09:53 PM

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