US state braces for Asian carp invasion

CHICAGO: The state of Michigan has appealed to the US Supreme Court to shut down Chicago-area

waterways in order to block the spread of invasive Asian carp.

The massive fish are known for endangering fishermen by jumping out of the water when spooked by the sound of a motor boat, and threaten native ecosystems with their voracious appetites. Officials have already installed expensive electric barriers to block the carp from making their way up from the Mississippi River basin into Lake Michigan and the rest of the Great Lakes. But traces of the fast-breeding carp — which can grow up to seven feet long and weigh 68 kg — were found just a mile from the electric barrier in the Chicago Canal last month.

Officials poisoned a nine kilometre stretch of the canal to try to block the advance and get a better gauge on how pervasive the carp had become by examining the hundreds of dead fish they could dredge out. While no Asian carp were found beyond the electric barrier, one was discovered in the canal and officials said more were likely present. Officials pledged new efforts to try to block their progress and the White House allocated $13 million to help with the fight.

But Michigan’s attorney general said Monday those efforts were not “enough to assure us the Lakes are safe.” Federal officials have warned that the carp could have a “devastating effect on the Great Lakes ecosystem and a significant economic impact” on the $7 billion sport and commercial fishing industry.

The carp aggressively compete with native species and could quickly become the dominant species because they are well suited to the Great Lakes and would have no predators, the US Fish & Wildlife Service said.

“Once in the lake, it would be very difficult to control them,” the fish and wildlife service said on a dedicated website,