“Asian Carp and the Effect on the Great Lakes”
Statement of the Issue
Asian carp are a threat to the Great Lakes if they invade them. They could destroy the Great Lakes ecosystem by overpopulating the lakes and disrupting the food chain. Asian carp are large fish that can weigh up to 100 pounds and grow to more than four feet long and will consume an excess amount of food and leave the other fish with very little to eat. With these carp in the water sport fishing will be affected along with the ecosystem. Not only are the Great Lakes involved, the Mississippi River and all tributaries have had Asian carp affected their waters and caused a drop in their ecosystems. These carp can mass produce which would cause an overpopulation of the lakes and with their size and stature they will force the local fish like trout, bass, and perch to seek other waters to survive or end up dying off. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Mike Leavitt said, “Asian carp threaten both the ecology and the economy of the Great Lakes.” Asian carp’s size plays a big role in the Great Lakes because they are the main predator and no other native fish to the Great Lakes can compete against them. The carp also have a leaping ability to disrupt fishing boats by causing injuries to the boaters. Some sources have stated these carp have leaped out of the water and caused lacerations due to the sharp fins, they have caused black eyes and concussions due to the size and force they would make on impact of a speeding boat. The elimination of these fish is nearly impossible due to all these factors and the Great Lakes climate is perfect for them to survive.
Background and History
Asian carp, also known as heavy-bodied cyprinids, were first introduced to American waters back in the 1970s. Their main job was to remove algae from catfish farms and ponds. When the ponds were flooded the carp got into the tributaries of the Mississippi and headed upstream towards the Great Lakes. The three main species of Asian carp introduced were bighead carp (hypophthalmichthys nobilis), silver carp (hypophthalmichthys molitrix), and grass carp (ctenopharyngodon idella). There are now eight different types of Asian carp affecting the United States. Asian carp originated in China about thousand years ago and is a main source of food and used for the creation of Chinese medicines. Some carp are massive in size with them ranging up to 100 pounds and lengths up to four to six feet. Silver carp have the jumping ability of eight to ten feet high, and they jump when they are easily startled by boats and personal watercrafts. Some of the bigger carp do not jump because of their massive size. Sources say if a carp jumps out of the water and hit someone going at a steady pace; it will feel like a bowling ball hitting them. As of now only a few bighead carp have been found in Lake Erie, but showed no signs of reproduction. According to EPA records, no silver or black carp have been found in any of the five Great Lakes. The Asian carp were declared an invasive species under the Lacey Act in 2007. An invasive species is a species that is non-native to the land and affects the habitats to cause damage to the ecosystem or economic system of the area. The carp is known as a prize food in foreign countries but here in the United States they are more of a nuisance and not seen as a fish people would catch to eat. Asian carp feed on plankton and algae in the water. By doing this they take away the main source of food for the smaller fish in the lakes which in turn takes away from the bigger fish like perch and walleye. The Asian carp can survive in the Great Lakes region because their natural habitat in the eastern hemisphere was nearly the same. Currently, Asian carp have been found all around the Mississippi River and even into the Ohio River, Missouri River, and Arkansas River. These carp average life span is...
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