WIT Press


Will Asian Carp Take Over The Great Lakes?

Price

Free (open access)

Paper DOI

10.2495/WS110331

Volume

153

Pages

11

Page Range

375 - 385

Published

2011

Size

2,534 kb

Author(s)

M. E. Vroman

Abstract

This paper examines the legal and legislative efforts to prevent the invasive Asian carp species from gaining access to Lake Michigan and thereby populating all the Great Lakes. So far appeals to the US Supreme Court and a case filed in the US District Court in Illinois have unsuccessfully argued for an injunction closing the Chicago Area Waterway System (CAWS) canals that connect the Des Plaines River to Lake Michigan. The Army Corp of Engineers, which has jurisdiction over the CAWS, has installed a system of electric barriers, which it insists is adequate to prevent the carp from accessing Lake Michigan. Unfortunately, these barriers are not entirely effective. In June 2010, a commercial fisherman caught a bighead carp north of the barriers in a lake only six miles from Lake Michigan, and Asian carp eDNA has been identified in Lake Michigan. Court rulings to date make it clear that nothing short of a proven, established, breeding population will be deemed threatening enough to justify a court order closing the CAWS connection to Lake Michigan. Of course if, and when, this is proven, it will be too late to prevent the fish from establishing themselves in the Great Lakes. Once the carp are established, the entire ecosystem of the Great Lakes is likely to change. This could be disastrous for both the fish that currently inhabit the lakes and the people and industries that depend on them. Since legal efforts appear ineffective, what other actions are possible that might prove successful in protecting the Great Lakes from Asian carp? Federal legislation and numerous agencies are seeking solutions but most experts agree that the best way to prevent a bilateral exchange of invasive species between the Great lakes and the Mississippi River Basin is to sever the CAWS connection that joins the two water systems. Keywords: Asian carp, bighead carp, silver carp, Great Lakes, Chicago Area Waterways (CAWS), Lake Michigan, Mississippi River Basin, eDNA, injunction, electric barriers, court rulings, legislation, hydrologic separation.

Keywords

Asian carp, bighead carp, silver carp, Great Lakes, Chicago Area Waterways (CAWS), Lake Michigan, Mississippi River Basin, eDNA, injunction, electric barriers, court rulings, legislation, hydrologic separation