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article imageMichigan offers prize for solution to getting rid of Asian carp

By Karen Graham     Mar 5, 2017 in Environment
With the threat of the Asian carp entering Lake Michigan, the Michigan state legislature has allocated one million dollars for a prize for anyone who comes up with new ideas, or better yet, a sure-fire plan to get rid of the invasive and voracious fish.
Asian carp, a catch-all phrase, are native to Southeast Asia and include four species, including the silver, bighead, grass, and black carp. They are fast-growing, adaptable, aggressive and very voracious eaters. They easily out-compete native fish for food and habitat in the waters of the United States.
After being introduced into the U.S. to clean fish ponds in Arkansas in the 1970s, flooding in the 1980s allowed the carp to escape and establish breeding populations in the wild, according to the National Wildlife Foundation (NWF). The carp population has rocketed to the point that over 97 percent of the biomass in portions of the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers are Asian Carp.
Map shows locations where Asian carp have been found in U.S. as of 2011.
Map shows locations where Asian carp have been found in U.S. as of 2011.
USGF/NWF
Great Lakes threatened by Asian Carp invasion
The Asian carp is slowly but surely getting closer and closer to the Great Lakes and in multiple locations. It won't be a matter of if they reach the lakes but how soon they are found in the lakes. Many of the tributaries flowing into the lakes are suitable habitat for carp and the nutrient-rich bays and other near-shore areas offer an abundant supply of plankton, their preferred food.
There has been an ongoing battle to stop the carp from entering the Great Lakes, something that if allowed to happen would be devastating, not only to tourism and fishing but to the Great lake's ecosystem and food chain. Since 2010, over $388 million has been spent, mostly coming from the federal government, on battling this invasive species.
And now, with the real possibility of funding to the Great Lake Restoration Initiative being taken away by the Trump administration, something needs to be done about the Asian carp invasion before it's too late. To that end, the Michigan state government has come up with a cash-backed idea: to announce a prize to be given to anyone who can come up with a workable idea or plan to get rid of the invasive fish.
Asian carp get really big! This particular Bighead carp is about to be studied by USGS scientists.
Asian carp get really big! This particular Bighead carp is about to be studied by USGS scientists.
USGS
The Asian carp plan goes live
A Department of Natural Resources representative told the Associated Press the Asian carp campaign will go live this summer and includes working with InnoCentive, a crowd-sourcing company that will host the campaign online.
On March 2, the Michigan House of Representatives approved a resolution calling for environmental leaders to not only continue but step up their efforts to prevent the spread of the Asian carp into Lake Michigan and the other Great Lakes. State Representative Beth Griffin, of Mattawan, told local News Talk station WSJM: “What I really like about the resolution is that, not only does it reinforce the importance of continuing those efforts, but I think it’s great because it involves the community and it says that the DNR will award cash prizes to any citizen who submits innovative solutions to help combat the threat."
More about Asian carp, Michigan, workable plan, offers prize, voracious eater
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