Welcome to one of the Great Lakes region's first environmental issues blogs. The North American Great Lakes contain 18% of the world's available surface freshwater and are a source of beauty, spiritual renewal and livelihood. Keep track of Great Lakes news and comment or disagree politely to frequent posts.
The commotion over the now likely invasion of Asian carp makes it timely to look at who these fish are and why they're a concern.
As the U.S. EPA notes, two species of Asian carp are of concern, bighead and silver. The EPA notes the fish "are a significant
threat to the Great Lakes because they are large, extremely
prolific, and consume vast amounts of food. They can weigh
up to 100 pounds, and can grow to a length of more
than four feet. They are well-suited to the climate of the
Great Lakes region, which is similar to their native Asian
Might they disrupt the already troubled food web of the Great Lakes fishery? Perhaps. One fear is that they will gobble up the forage fish on which desirable Great Lakes sport fish, including salmon and lake trout, depend. There will probably be other effects.
The EPA page is generally excellent, but its discussion of how the carp came to the U.S. is clouded. There is no mention that EPA itself may have encouraged the introduction of the carp, as Eric Sharp suggests.
One commenter on a post I did elsewhere also raised an issue.
Bighead and silver carp did NOT originally escape during flooding of
the early 90s. The first silver carp was captured from the wild in
1972! Bigheads were abundant in the late 1980s. There may have been
some ponds that flooded in the '93 flood, but the only reason there “is
agreement” that this happened is because it sounds logical to the
uninformed and that it has been so often repeated in the media that it
is common (although probably incorrect) knowledge. There was a farm
that flooded later, on the Osage River, but that was after the fish
were already well established. The most logical reason for the escape
of bighead and silver carp is carelessness, not the capriciousness of
Apparently there is a misunderstanding over whether a property owner also "owns" the groundwater flowing beneath his or her land. He or she does not, but Russell Harding, former Michigan DEQ Director, thinks so. With his usual perspicuity. If he were right, there wouldn't have been a Nestle water heist case in Michigan. Property owners have a right to use, not ownership of both groundwater and surface water.
The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative RFP expressly rules out funding for land conservancy projects, aka vital habitat conservation. That's unwise, to say the least.
Ineligible Activities. Under this RFP, EPA will not fund: water infrastructure projects that are addressed under the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund; basic research; land acquisition; remediation of contaminated sediments; or projects the principal purpose for which is general operating support.