Asian Carp Essay

THE ASIAN CARP There has been a growing concern recently in the state of Michigan and several other states over a species of fish known as the Asian carp. Perhaps you’ve seen or heard something on the news. It hasn’t reached the great lakes yet but is expected too in the near future. As an invasive species it devastates native fish species habitat and spawning areas. Along with being a menace to boaters because once startled the fish jump out of the water striking the Boater and causing serious injury. Other states who have had to deal with this problem are at a loss as to how to stem this menace to the water ways.

Federal and State fisheries and game departments have no idea how to completely eliminate these invaders and at best only slow them down. they are truly unstoppable in their invasion of American fresh water’s systems so far. All of the solutions are extremely costly and have had little or no effect. Such as poison or electro shock They are fighting a losing battle with a super prolific foe who has little or no natural predation to stop them. They are an ecological nightmare for conservationist in all of the states that it is currently present in.

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Michigan as a great lake state is in a particular peril from the Asian carp, once it gets to the great lakes it will move into all of the river systems in the state and surrounding states as well. Having spent billions on cleaning up pollution and rebuilding its sport fishing on the great lakes. It is of great concern not only for those who fish and boat but depend on those who come to Michigan for the tourism of the great lakes and the people who live in this state who depend on those tourist dollars to earn a living.

It will be your tax dollars being spent in a futile effort to save the lakes yet again from another ecological disaster. Michigan has an advantage over a lot of the other states where this problem has occurred. The advantage is that it has ports for large ocean going ships and railheads for transportation and those will play an important role in the solution. Michigan used to have a thriving commercial fish industry but due to over harvest, it too went the way of the auto industry. What does all of this mean? There in lies the solution to the problem.

By the commercial harvest of the Asian carp and turning them into fertilizer and pet food. As a fertilizer they would be completely organic and beneficial to the environment. Not only would it be helpful to the ecology but it would create thousands of badly needed jobs in a state that leads the nation in unemployment (13%). That too will be an important part of the solution. Given the prolific nature of this species over harvest won’t be a problem and by harvesting them on a commercial level it will have a serious effect on their population.

And instead of costing the tax payer it will add to the states badly needed revenue. A lot of the rivers that it has invaded are major waterways’ navigatable by the largest of ships. So trawlers can get to them and processing ships can be near by to receive the other boat’s catches, saving on fuel costs and by being mobile they can keep up with shifting populations and by sending the trawlers into the rivers they can reduce their numbers before they ever get to the great lakes

Processing can emulsify them turning them into a liquid so they can be easily pumped into tanks for delivery by either Ship or Rail roads even Semi trucks. Creating more jobs for all of those related industries. Will it stop them from invading the great lakes ? Sadly nothing will stop them, not without killing everything else in the water too and that’s not a viable solution. Try considering all of the other known methods such as poison or electro shock. Those methods kill off the good species with the bad. And they still have to dispose of the remains of all those fish.

But if by using simple netting techniques the native species can be culled from the harvest and returned to the water saving a lot of them. Yes there will be some loss of native species but the alternative is to lose them ALL. Imagine boating down the majestic Au Sable or any other river in this state only to be hit by a flying carp or not being able to see the bottom because the water has been churned to a muddy mess due to thousands upon thousands of Asian carp. Asian Carp are not the first species to invade the great lakes.

Remember the zebra mussel that made its way into the great lake’s chain by hitching a ride on the hulls of ocean going freighters. They had a profound effect on the lakes, they actually helped clean the water, Each one of those tiny mussels filters seven gallons of water through its tiny body in A 24-hour period. Lake Erie was so polluted that it actually caught fire (love canal) now it is one of the premier walleye fisheries in the U. S.. A true success! Then there is the Goby another non native species that has already found its way to the great lakes and inland waters.

Via public carelessness While harmful somewhat to native species it faces some natural predation from native species so its effect isn’t as dramatic as the Asian carp and it’s highly prolific nature and no predation. Then there is the Alewife introduced by the Department of Natural resources as a food source for sport fish on the great lakes, without taking into consideration its prolific nature and its competition with smelt for spawning areas and food sources, its effect has been some what negligible since natural predation has slowed the total devastation that can be wrought through mis- management or negligence.

And let use not forget the lamprey eel. Millions have been spent trying to stop this plague to the sport fishing industry. They’ve erected hundreds of weirs in an effort to stop it from advancing into inland rivers and lakes throughout the state. The problem there is the lamprey attaches its self to the side of salmon and the salmon jump the weirs. I have personally witnessed this and for that I view the weir as a failure and a monumental waste of the taxpayer’s money. By harvesting the Asian carp we can keep their population in check and save a lot of our native species.

As well as create thousands of long term jobs. And by using them as an organic fertilizer we can further help our environment by reducing pollutants introduced to our water ways from run off from farms. That we as taxpayers have already paid to clean up. It’s a viable solution given the alternatives of spending millions on dams and locks, poisons or electro shock that isn’t going to stop them and poses a disposal problem. Federal and state governments can offer multiple tax incentives to the farmers who use carp fertilizer to fertilize their crops.

There are numerous industries that would be interested in some of the by products of harvesting such as fish oil, perfume, and medicine as well as pet foods which is a billion-dollar industry all by its self. They can even be processed into food and shipped to third world countries to help aid starving populations. The benefits are far reaching and as of yet not fully realized but we as reasoning public can already see there is a solution to be had and the benefits to this idea that can affect us as a state and as a nation as well as make an effort to solve the problem of what to do about dealing with the Asian carp.

Spend millions building dams’ locks and weirs? Those methods will hamper navigation of effected rivers with no financial gain once they are constructed. Or harvest these invaders and put a lot of people to work. We as a people can ill afford to be complacent in our efforts to help the environment and this solution has overlapping benefits which have to be considered as a viable alternative to the other methods that have been tried with dismal results.

Michigan has an opportunity to lead by example in the effort to thwart the take over of the great lakes by the Asian carp, while creating a lot of badly needed jobs and turn a profit at the same time. I would like at this time to add a word about the author of this piece. I was born in California (Oakland ) and raised in the north west all through the mountains, lakes and rivers of northern California, Oregon and Washington I’ve been an avid outdoors man and conservationist/Naturalist for more than 40 years.

I’ve also lived in Michigan, Colorado and Oklahoma and studied the different ecosystems in all of the afore mentioned states. I’ve also been a Michigan steel header(12 years) and a member of the North American Fishing club for more than 20 years. I’ve spent the better part of my life on hundreds of lakes and rivers and understand the complexities involved in maintaining or sustaining a viable fresh water ecosystem. And having spent most of my life on Americas vast waterways and I can appreciate the daunting task that this problem poses.

It didn’t happen over night and the cure won’t happen over night, it will take a lot of effort from a lot of different agencies, states and people who have to put aside political differences to achieve the type of success needed in this endeavor. We as a state and as a nation cannot afford to be complacent or ignore this problem, its going to impact us all in some way or at some level. Why not seek a solution that has so much additional benefit?


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