Asian Carp in Great Lakes & Its Impact on the Shipping Industry

by | Tuesday, July 8, 2014 | 0 comment(s)

Legislators and stakeholders are struggling to find a workable solution for how to protect the economy and ecosystem from Asian carp that may invade the Great Lakes.

Asian Carp Are Making Their Way to the Great Lakes

Asian carp, a non-native species that can grow up to 100 pounds each and has no natural predators in the Great Lakes, can wipe out entire species of fish by consuming all the available plankton.

The United States Department of Fish and Wildlife introduced the species in lakes in the 1970s in order to help control algae growth. The carp have been steadily making their way up the Mississippi River and are now as far north as the Illinois River, as they get closer and closer to the Great Lakes.

Failed Attempts at Controlling the Asian Carp Population

Officials have made numerous efforts to address the issue. According to media reports, some of the tactics they’ve tried include:

  • water cannons to create turbulence;
  • chemical toxins;
  • hiring commercial fisherman to remove the fish; and
  • electric fishing.

Kevin Irons from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources explains to FOX News: "We've taken over 2.1 million pounds since 2010. We've taken as many as 80,000 or 100,000 pounds in a given week." Despite these efforts, the carp survive.

Proposed Solutions to Keep Asian Carp from the Great Lakes

Several possible solutions have been brought to table, including permanent barriers to separate Lake Michigan from Chicago waterways.

It’s an $18 billion plan that would take 25 years to complete – and its efficacy is still questionable. The fish could still find a way in, some suggest. “The true threat of carp getting into the lakes won’t hinge on barriers, but rather the very real possibility of humans simply taking live carp and dropping them in the lake,” explains Michigan Radio citing Michael Borgstrom, president of Wendella Sightseeing.

The Potential for Economic & Ecological Ruin

Should the Asian carp reach the Great Lakes, “the entire ecosystem of the Great Lakes could be devastated,” explains FOX News. Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell elucidates: “This is a national treasure that we have and it's worth keeping. It's 20 percent of the surface fresh water on the globe right here. We're the stewards of it, and it's at risk right now."

Furthermore, the economy of the Great Lakes area is based on the fishing, recreation and shipping industries. And the proposed solutions put these industries at odds:

  • Fishing & recreation – Without a solution, the fishing industry and recreation industries would be endangered, thanks to the Asian carp wiping out other species’ food supplies.
  • Shipping – However, if the barriers are put into place, it could wind up costing commercial shippers more than $200 million per year, reports FOX News, citing another report.

The shipping industry is taking the stance that because “the presence of Asian

carp in the canal is not a certainty, sacrificing the well-being of their

industry would be an irresponsible step,” according to a report in the Pepperdine Policy Review in Spring 2011.

Finding the Information You Need

For more information on topics of interest to the maritime industry, visit the My Vessel Logs blog.

This entry was posted in .

You must be logged in to post comments.