Non-native Asian carp are knocking (or flopping) at the door of the Great Lakes, and they certainly do not need any help with publicity. They’re doing the job pretty well on their own, generating and receiving a great deal of attention from ocean coast to coast, not just on the shores of our inland waterways.
The New Yorker magazine’s latest issue contains an article by Ian Frazier (subscription required to view full article) about the threat the carp pose to the lakes. Frazier also looks into the reaction of anglers, including a Redneck Fishing Tournament in Illinois, a sardonic response to the northern migration of the carp. There is some talk of catching and selling the invasive carp as a source of protein in America’s food supply. News media from the New York Times to the Los Angeles Times have covered the carp controversy.
The carp can grow to near 100 pounds and four feet in length, and consume up to half their body weight per day. They’ve also been known to leap into the air at the sound of engines in passing boats, even supposedly striking and knocking out a jet skier. Accidentally released into the Mississippi River system during floods, they proliferate easily and some Great Lakes defenders fear they will out-compete sport fish, causing a collapse of tourism-related industries associated with fishing.
While court battles continue over whether to shut down the Chicago-area shipping canal that might provide a route for the carp to reach Lake Michigan, the Obama Administration has appointed a carp “czar” to develop a coherent public policy on the threat of invasion.