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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

Pricey Fish

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Tuesday, January 7, 2014/Categories: video, sustainability, environment

Everyone knows that Asian carp horror story. Brought to the US from China in the 1970's to clean pond scum from southern catfish farms, they escaped into the Mississippi River and began moving north. The carp are now 'poster children' of invasive species and are at the doorstep of the Great Lakes.

Massive efforts are needed to prevent them from getting into the lakes. The Army Corp of Engineers has just released their long-awaited report offering ideas to contain them. As with controlling other invasive species, it will not be easy or cheap and might not be successful. The carp have the odd ability to leap out of water en mass and expand their numbers like aquatic rabbits. They have reached the Illinois River, a tributary of the Mississippi that feeds into Lake Michigan. Rumors have been circulating that the carp may be in the lake but none have been caught or trapped so far. A small consolation considering their rapid movement elsewhere.

In the dry, bureaucratic, vocabulary typical of large departmental reports, the Army Corps states:

"previous successful invasions of 'aquatic nuisence species' (ANS) have severely impacted the economic and environmental resources of the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins. Aquatic nuisance species like the Asian carp threaten native plants and animals, reduce biodiversity, harm important terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, degrade water quality, transport diseases, and result in economic, political, and social impacts."

The Corps plans for the carp could require 25 years and $18 billion to complete. This is one very pricey fish.

Perhaps, a more pro-active emergency plan might be in order: support factory-fishing boats, employ lots of people to vacuum up the fish out of the rivers, turn them into frozen fillets, and produce an export industry to Asia where the aquatic invaders originated. 25 years is a long time to wait, $18 billion is a lot to spend on engineering, wan export industry could help now.

The Passenger Pigeon was hunted to extinction to serve 19th Century diners and carp are prized by Asian tastes today. Their extinction should commercially encouraged post haste.


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