Asian carp breeding in Lake Erie tributary

LANSING— Federal and state officials recently announced that a breeding population of grass carp has been found for the first time within the Great Lakes watershed, said Sen. John Proos.

The grass carp were discovered in Ohio’s Sandusky River, a tributary of Lake Erie.

“This is truly a warning sign for the Great Lakes ecosystem and the millions of families and job providers who depend on the lakes for their livelihood,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “While the grass carp pose a smaller environmental and economic threat than bighead and silver varieties, their invasion of the Lake Eric watershed renews concerns about efforts to protect the Great Lakes from the fish’s more-devastating Asian carp cousins.”

Bighead and silver carp are commonly known as “Asian carp” and represent the Great Lakes’ greatest threat due to their size and potential impact on native fish. They breed quickly, have no natural predators and can consume daily as much as 20 percent of their body weight in plankton — a food source vital to aquatic food chains.

“An Asian carp infestation of Lake Michigan would be catastrophic to the Great Lakes ecosystem and the $7 billion fishing industry that relies on the lakes,” Proos said. “Billions of dollars in economic activity would be lost, thousands of Michigan jobs wiped out and our way of life in the Great Lakes region changed forever. It is a battle that we cannot afford to lose.

“I hope that this latest development spurs the president to take action to stop a bighead and silver carp invasion of Lake Michigan and prevent an ecological and economic disaster.”

Proos and his colleagues have repeatedly urged Congress and the president to end water diversion from Lake Michigan through Chicago. Closing the Chicago locks would help prevent the Asian carp migration into the Great Lakes by removing the fish’s best access.

Grass carp as well as silver, bighead and black carp are considered invasive species and are illegal to possess in Michigan. Residents who believe they have seen or caught an Asian carp should contact the Michigan Department of Natural Resources immediately. Visit www.michigan.gov/asiancarp to fill out an online reporting form or call 1-517-373-1280.

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Editor’s Note: Audio comments by Proos are available on the senator’s website at www.SenatorJohnProos.com. Click on “Podcasts.”