Georgian Bay group fishes for solution to invasive species 0
The Georgian Bay Forever association is fishing for a solution on an invasive species heading for the Great Lakes.
The group, which acts as an advocate for the health of Georgian Bay, issued a release last week warning of the dangers of four invasive species known collectively as "Asian carp."
"Invasive Asian carp have reached the Great Lake's last line of defense outside of Chicago, Illinois, and one heavy rainfall can see them breach the electric barrier protecting the world's largest source of surface freshwater from these voracious fish," stated the release. "Environmental and conservation groups are urging the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers to take emergency action, while the Canadian government is urged to support the effort in any way possible."
"This is an emergency and we are down to sandbags and mortar," says Jennifer Nalbone, from Great Lakes United. "Barriers must be built between these nearby waterways and the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal to ensure that during a fall flood live carp cannot be carried into the CSSC past the electrical barrier."
Asian carp present a significant risk to Canadian freshwaters. The Canadian department of Fisheries and Oceans has warned via risk assessments that Asian carp species not only would survive, but due to similar temperatures found in its native range in China, would also likely thrive in the Great Lakes, and across most of the provinces.
"There is an urgent threat of the carp entering Lake Michigan if the nearby waterways flood into the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal," said Mary Muter from Georgian Bay Forever. "One heavy rain event could spell disaster for the Great Lakes and inland waters across Canada."
The so-called Asian carp are the bighead, grass, silver and black carp, of which the first three have invaded the Mississippi River watershed. Muter said in the release the fish are "voracious feeders that can grow to maximum weights of 40-to-50 kg based on species, quickly dominating a waterbody due to their size. They would cause irreversible harm to the Great Lakes by consuming large quantities of food, muscling out native fish populations, and altering native habitat.
"Meanwhile, the silver carps' tendency to jump out of the water when startled makes them a hazard to boaters."
The association is asking Canadian citizens to contact the Minister of the Environment, Jim Prentice and Fisheries and Oceans Minister Gail Shea, and urge that they offer Canada's help in any effort to stop the invasive fish.