Asian Carp, a collection of four distinct fish species, represent a serious, but manageable threat to the Mississippi and Great Lakes Region. Introduced in the 1970s by southern catfish farmers, Asian Carp traveled north through U.S. waterways to their current location in the Illinois River. To cope with the further spread of these invasive species of carp, regulators installed electric barriers to prevent further progression – a solution that has worked to date.
Recently, some have advocated for disruption of commercial traffic through the northern most locks on the Chicago Area Waterway System (CAWS). Unfortunately, the facts do not support such a move:
- Lock closure is not a solution to the threat posed by Asian Carp, but rather a politically motivated stunt that would result in enormous economic consequences for the region.
- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is considering classifying the current situation an ‘emergency’ to assume authority to close the Chicago-area locks. No emergency exists, and all evidence shows that self sustaining populations of Asian Carp have been controlled by existing barriers.
- The Illinois Fish and Wildlife Service recently logged 34 days on the water in an exhaustive search for any Asian Carp specimen. They located none – alive or dead.
- The CARP ACT, introduced in the both the U.S. House and Senate further injects politics into this process, demanding federal action to immediately close the Chicago-area locks.
- Again, no evidence exists to support radical action by the Federal government. Over 30 additional barrier methods outlined by the government coordinated Asian Carp Working Group, have yet to be fully explored, including additional electric barriers, acoustic deterrents, strobe lights and air bubble curtains.
At present there is no evidence warranting extreme action. The threat posed by Asian Carp is best dealt with through comprehensive, collaborative solutions designed to solve this problem, rather than score political points.