Defending Our Great Lakes – Frequently Asked Questions

AsianCarpWhat are Asian Carp?
They are eating machines that devastate ecosystems. They leap out of the water striking and injuring boaters and anglers. Their very presence threatens native game fish and other species.

There are four invasive species of carp from Southeast Asia – bighead, black, grass, and silver – which are collectively referred to as Asian carp.

Why are they so destructive?
These carp consume large amounts of plankton and aquatic vegetation, changing aquatic food webs, modifying habitat, and directly competing with forage fish, larval fishes, and native mussels for food.

In some areas of the Mississippi River basin where Asian carp have taken over, they now comprise up to 97% of fish biomass. If they get into the Great Lakes, they will starve out walleye, trout, and salmon just as easily.

Silver carp pose a particular threat to boaters, as they are known to jump out of the water when startled by boat engines.

How did they get into our rivers?
Asian carp were imported into the U.S. in the early 1970s to filter plankton and algae from fish farms in the southeast. They escaped into the Mississippi River from aquaculture facilities in the early 1990s during flooding. Since escaping, the carp have made their way northward and become the most abundant species in many areas of the Mississippi. Wherever they’ve taken hold, they’ve out-competed native fish and caused severe hardship to the anglers who fish the river.

How much of the Mississippi river is infested?
Since their escape in the early 1990s, they have infested the river system from Louisiana to Illinois. Now, they are poised to invade and conquer the Great Lakes and that is where the line has to be drawn.

What is being done to stop them?
Based on assessments of these threats conducted by the Army Corps of Engineers and others, the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives have introduced the Defending Our Great Lakes Act. This bill provides the funding necessary to implement both immediate and long-term solutions to stop these invaders from accessing the Great Lakes through canals in the Chicago area. It directs the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to work with other authorities to take immediate steps to control invasive species using technology ranging from electric barriers and underwater sound cannons to pheromones.

What is the GLMRIS?
Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study (GLMRIS) was conducted by the Army Corps of Engineers over several years. The GLMRIS was a directive of Water Resources Development Act of 2007, which authorized the Army Corps of Engineers to conduct a feasibility study. The Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act enacted on October 5, 2012 expedited the study’s progress.

The completed GLMRIS presents a range of options and technologies to prevent movement through watersheds associated with the Chicago Area Waterway System. Physical and chemical separation methods are particularly important for the Brandon Road Lock and Dam in Illinois, which is known to be a vulnerable point of entry. The Army Corps obtained public comment on the study from January 6, 2014 through March 31, 2014. Now, the Army Corps is collaborating with federal, state, regional and nongovernmental partners to support its management and control efforts.

What can you do?
Email your legislators today and ask that they support the Defending Our Great Lakes Act. Simply click the Send a Message button to make your voice heard. It only takes a minute to make a difference.


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