How did carp, an invasive species, take over our lakes and rivers?
The umbrella of “Asian carp” that we incessantly discuss in the angler and aquaculture community actually encompasses nine different species—the common goldfish, grass carp, common carp, silver carp, largescale silver carp, bighead carp, black carp, mud carp, and last but not least, the crucian carp. And of these nine listed species, how many would you say are now established—meaning to have successfully spawned reproductive populations—in our water waterways? Two, three, maybe even four? Nope, higher—five or six, at most you’d say?
Try nine…all of them. And they’re found in nearly every state, introduced legally—albeit with misguided thoughts—or otherwise.
But the question still remains: why did we bring these oriental fish to our freshwater fronts? The answer, to put it bluntly, finds itself orbiting the axis that “justifies” any human-catalyzed invasive species—mitigating a problem we’ve inheritably caused.
Asian carp were brought into the United States in the early 1970s to “clean up” commercial ponds; carp feed primarily on what many aquaculturist view as nuisance fauna such as snails, muscles, excessive plant growth, etc. In fact, some carp are so vivacious in their alien food webs that they can alter them completely. And that spells disaster to any endemic ecosystem.
Keeping it Downstream
Leave it to man’s creativity to tackle problems in which it gave birth to. Great Lake states seem to be on the forefront of spearheading these population control theories and practices. Yes, we’ve all seen the videos and pictures of eccentric fisherman going after projectile silver carp with bows and arrows, nets, and tenacity. It’s a community coming together to mitigate a serious problem—and having fun doing so.
But for the future sustainability of our freshwater systems, we need to look at more systematic, encompassing solutions.
- Hydrologic barriers i.e. damming work, “fish ladders,” etc.
- Nonstructural means i.e. netting, chemicals, etc.
- Hydroelectric control i.e. pulsating a high-voltage current through a body of water
View Michigan State’s control platform for more in-depth details about control solutions and metrics.
I’ve always preached a mantra of hope and cognitive shift in the light of great struggle. When push comes to shove, it’s imperative we personify those verbal cues. We need to “push” innovation and ideas, “shoving” those later-bred solutions down that said problem’s throat—let’s “establish” that neurologically-wed population.
Let’s get rid of the carp.