Asian Carp Great Lakes: Can Barrier Wall Block Invasion?

May 13, 2016 | By Garrett Montgomery More

Asian Carp in the Great Lakes, no more. It has been confirmed that the construction of a $4.4 million berm to prevent Asian Carp from crossing into the Great Lakes is completed.

Asian carp Great Lakes

Asian Carp can no longer cross to the Great Lakes, (which consist of Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario, forming the largest group of freshwater lakes on Earth, containing 21% of the world’s surface fresh water by volume).

Cameron Davis, who coordinates Great Lakes policy for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, issued a statement revealing that the nearly two-mile-long berm at Eagle Marsh to keep Asian carp also known as zombie fish from reaching the Great Lakes, is completed. According to Mr. Davis, it cost about $4.4 million to build the berm, which averages 7.5 feet high.

What are Asian Carp?

“Asian carp are fast-growing, aggressive and adaptable fish from Southeast Asia that are eating native fish species for food and habitat in much of the mid-section of the United States. Asian carp were introduced into Southern fish farm ponds in the 1970s and quickly spread across the United States. They are now on the verge of invading the Great Lakes.”

Davis shared:

“This is a great example of how a smaller investment up front can save a whole lot of money and heartache after the fact, after damage could have been created.”

He added:

“We don’t want to ever get to that point, where the fish are right there at the gate. We want to keep beating them back so that they never get to the Great Lakes.”

Davis explained that the multi-million dollar berm will block floodwaters and stop carp from crossing from the Wabash River watershed into the Maumee River watershed, which eventually empties into Lake Erie. Eagle Marsh is considered the second-most important spot for stopping invasive species from getting into the Great Lakes.

Dihari Fernando, Invasive Species Centre executive director, went on to add another reason to prevent the Asian Carp invasion, they cost and financial damage to the area they invade. He shared:

“Known popularly as zombie fish, Asian carp have no North American predators and devour huge numbers of native fish. They have overwhelmed U.S.fisheries and rivers along with the Great Lakes. Worldwide, invasive species problems account for $1.4 trillion in damage to farming, environment, and society. Canadian officials don’t want another invasive species considering the horrible experience with zebra mussels that block pipes and inconvenience people in the water and emerald ash borer. This proposed legislation would give officials more tools to fight those already existing invasive species.”

Asian Carp are also bad for tourists and locals, who enjoy boating, the huge, hard-headed silver can leap out of the water when startled by boat engines, often colliding with people and causing injuries. More interesting facts on the species:

“Voracious filter feeders, Asian carp, a catchall name for species of silver, bighead, grass, and black carpconsume up to 20% of their bodyweight per day in plankton and can grow to over 100 pounds. Plankton are small floating organisms that form the foundation of the aquatic food chain and are vital to native fish.

It is crucial to prevent Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes. Once established in an ecosystem they are virtually impossible to eradicate. Adult Asian carp have no natural predators in North America and females lay approximately half a million eggs each time they spawn.”

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