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Minnesota’s Wild Plan to Fight Invasive Asian Carp

Source: Dennis McGrath

Invasive Asian carp “Shock and Awe” campaign involves high powered water jets, loud noises, air bubbles, and underwater lights.

A team of University of Minnesota scientists have come up with an ambitious plan in the fight against keeping invasive carp from reaching the upper Mississippi River. Their idea? Hit the carp hard with jets of water, scare them with loud noises and turn them away with blasts of air bubbles and underwater light shows.

While the common carp has been swimming in Minnesota waters for over 100 years, Asian carp were brought into the U.S. in the 1970s to control weed and parasite growth in aquatic farms. The carp escaped the farms into the Mississippi River, and started to move north.

The fish cause serious damage by outcompeting native fish for food and habitat and by lowering water quality, which can kill  sensitive native species. Silver carp, one off the invasive Asian carp species are known to jump out of the water in mass numbers, causing damage to boaters and equipment. Check out this crazy video by North American Fishing showing hundreds of silver carp leaping up to 10 feet out of the water.

The plan to attack the carp has gained support from state and federal agencies like the Army Corps of Engineers and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. The researchers have proposed the construction of a carp barrier at a lock and dam site upstream from the town of Winona, Minnesota in the hopes that the carp will be blocked from migrating further into rivers and connected lakes. Cost for the project, likely funded through assistance from the Federal government is estimated from between 7 million and 10 million dollars.

“We’ve got the tools necessary to do this and there’s no point in waiting,” said project leader Professor Peter Sorensen in an interview. “Do we just wait for the Asian carp to invade? That’s kind of what’s happening now.”

The approach used by Sorensen’s team would involve manipulating the lock and Dam’s spillway to created high velocity currents to powerful for the carp to overcome while at the same time assaulting the carp with noise, lights and a sophisticated deflecting shield of air bubbles. Through water sampling, the MN DNR would also be able to quickly detect the presence of the invasive carp, and when not in the area be able to disarm the system to allow for the migration of game fish.

Although there is no guarantee that some Asian carp won’t get around the barrier, the scientists believe that the already infrequent presence of the fish would come increasingly rare.

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Minnesota’s Wild Plan to Fight Invasive Asian Carp