BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - Will the Great Lakes soon fall victim to the destructiveappetite of a foreign fish?
Asian carp were originally imported into the United States inthe 1970s to clean catfish ponds. But when those fish farms floodedthe carp were transferred to the Mississippi River and they've beenmultiplying ever since. If they make the Great Lakes in droves itcould threaten our fishing industry.
You may recall our special assignment back in May on Asian carp,those huge hungry jumping fish.
In the past three weeks carp were found just south of LakeMichigan, which means the fish made it beyond the electricalbarrier located near Chicago that was suppose to keep the fish outof the Great Lakes.
Jennifer Nalbone at Great Lakes United says a handful of carphave even been spotted in Lake Erie, possibly dumped by people inthe seafood trade, but there's no evidence of a large populationlike there are in the Mississippi and Wabash Rivers.
But if the Wabash River were to flood, the carp could betransferred to the Maume River which feeds directly into Lake Erie,posing a major threat to our lake. and its multi-billion dollarfishing industry.
New York State Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said, "It willdevastate the fishing industry. It will hurt our small businessesand in this tough economy the last thing we need is something todestroy the way people provide for their families."
Asian carp can grow to be up to four-feet long and weigh 100pounds. They are an invasive species that was accidentallyintroduced to the Mississippi River Basin twenty years ago, andhave thrived ever since.
"They are extremely hungry fish. They eat a tremendous amount ofalgae and plankton which is the basis of the food chain. So, whatyou may see is a collapse in the food chain in Lake Erie," saidJennifer Nalbone, Director of Invasive Species and Navigation forGreat Lakes United.
"The Asian carp in areas that they have invaded have out-competenative fish species," said Nalbone.
At a congressional hearing, lawmakers considered completelyseparating the water from the Mississippi River and Great LakesBasins, so they never mix.
"It is widely accepted that the permanent solution to this Asiancarp crisis is making sure that they can't swim into the GreatLakes from the Mississippi River Basin," said Nalbone.
Some environmentalists believe this project will take years, andby then Asian carp will have won the battle leaving fishermen witheverything to lose.
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