The Asian carp, a voracious fish that completely devours food sources vital to other species and quickly multiplies, have now been found in the Great Lakes watershed – a real threat to the fishing industries there.
A research team from Bowling Green State University and the U.S. Geological Survey announced that four grass carp lived in the Sandusky River in northern Ohio – which flows into Lake Erie – for their entire lives and have the potential to become spawning adults.
The Asian carp was brought to the U.S. from China in the 1970s when catfish farmers in the southern states began importing them to eat algae, according to Time magazine
, which also reported the research team's discovery. The species escaped from farms into the wild and began threatening the ecosystem by eating up large amounts of plankton along the Mississippi River.
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Time reported that the federal government had spent millions of dollars trying to keep the Asian carp out of the Great Lakes as the fish migrated up the Mississippi.
"Successful reproduction of grass carp in the Great Lakes is an indication that other species of Asian carp — silver, bighead and black carp — might be able to reproduce there," according to a U.S. Geological survey report
"Silver, bighead, and black carps have spawning and development requirements similar to grass carp. Bighead and silver carps have reached extremely high densities in the Mississippi River Basin and there is great concern that they may invade the Great Lakes Basin," the report continued.
The Associated Press reported
that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is currently planning a long-term course of action if the Asian carp continues its invasion of the Great Lakes and plans to release a report in the coming months.
John Goss, of the White House Council on Environmental Quality's Asian carp program, told the AP that the discovery that grass carp can reproduce within the watershed "reinforces why we must continue to execute the aggressive strategy to keep silver and bighead carp out of the Great Lakes that we have been pursuing for the past three and a half years."
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"It's bad news," Duane Chapman, of the U.S. Geological Survey, told the AP about the discovery of the grass carp in the Sandusky River. "It would have been a lot easier to control these fish if they'd been limited in the number of places where they could spawn. This makes our job harder. It doesn't make it impossible, but it makes it harder."
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