Good fishing... beautiful scenery... historic river towns. We’ll hook you up.
Photo by U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Asian carp are filter feeding fish that can weigh up to 110 pounds for bighead carp and 60 pounds for silver carp. Both species have low-set eyes below the mouth and large upturned mouths without barbels.
They eat huge amounts of plankton and detritus. Because they feed on plankton, these fish compete for food with native organisms including mussels, larval fishes, and some adult fish such as paddlefish. This competition for food could result in fewer and smaller sport fish.
They are big and they are ugly. They reproduce like crazy, quickly dominating the fish population in any water they inhabit. They compete for resources with gamefish and other desirable species. Unfortunately, they are knocking at our door.
Dangerous for boaters and boats.
Asian carp, specifically the silver carp species, are known for jumping up to 10 feet out of the water when disturbed by approaching watercraft, resulting in property damage or personal injury.
“Fish jumping in the boat” is not a good thing!
Imagine the impact of three bowling balls linked together... becoming unpredictably airborne... meeting watercraft traveling at 30 mph.
Why are they called “Asian Carp”?
Because of their prominence, and because they were imported to the United States much later than other carp native to Asia, the term “Asian carp" is often used in the United States with the intended meaning of only grass, black, silver, and bighead carp.
How did they get here?
In the 1970s, fish farmers in mostly Southern states began importing Asian carp from China to help clean their commercial ponds. Many sources cite the record floods of the 1990s as the means by which Asian carp escaped aquaculture ponds into the Mississippi River. The rise in the populations of bighead and silver carp has been dramatic where they are established in the Mississippi River basin.
When the Asian carp got into the Mississippi River they spread fast and are now found in all most tributaries of the river system. The fear is they will get into the Great Lakes through canals and, if so, be a serious problem to native fish species.
Why are they considered to be an invasive species?
After they move into ajoining waterways and spread, Asian carp can cause significant damage to native populations of fish. Some species of Asian carp can grow to four feet long and weigh over 100 pounds. They can consume up to 40 percent of their body weight in plankton each day, removing huge amounts of food needed at the beginning of the food chain, and also making it harder for native plankton eaters like paddle fish to survive.
Bighead and silver carp feed by filtering plankton from the water. The extremely high abundance of bighead and silver carp has caused great concern because of the potential for competition with native species for food and living space. Because of their filter-feeding habits, they are difficult to capture by normal angling methods.
The carp grow to large sizes (50-110 lbs.) and quickly become some of the most abundant fish in an area, and out compete native species for food or habitat resources. Asian carp have comprised as much as 90% of fish biomass when measured in the most severely affected waters.
Photo by U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
What can be done to stop them from spreading further?
In some rivers, electronic “gates” have been established to stop the spread. These gates are narrow places in the waterway, often near locks, where an underwater fence is set up under the water. The gate is the only opening and it is to allow boats to pass. A low electric charge goes through the water to turn back the fish. Unfortunately, studies of the effectiveness of these barriers have been inconclusive.
If you can't beat’em, eat’em!
Better tasting than tilapia? Hmmm... get your fillet knife ready.
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