THE CRIMES: Competes with native fish. Eats all the phytoplankton and zooplankton, fish and native mussels. Jumps out of water and smacks boaters and anglers when annoyed by boat motors.
DESCRIPTION: Fish with low-set eyes and large upturned mouth without barbells. Has a head with no scales and body with very small scales. Can weigh more than 27 kg (60 lbs) and grow to over 1.2 meters (4 ft) long. Silver carp is one species of many referred to as Asian carp.
Where are you from?
American fish farmers brought me here from China in the 1970s. They used me to clear algae from fish-rearing ponds in Arkansas and Mississippi.
How did you get here?
In 1993 the Mississippi flooded over the catfish farms and I made my great escape. Each year I have moved 50 miles up the Mississippi and Illinois River, tearing fishing nets along the way, eating all the plankton, scaring off native fish and generally taking over. Humans are now shaking in their boots because I was spotted less than 50 miles from Lake Michigan.
Whats your problem?
As I invade a new area, I take over! I can reach 1.2 meters (4 ft) long, weigh over 27 kg (60 lbs), and I can jump over 4½ meters (15 ft) high—Michael Jordan, watch out! I’ve been known to slam into anglers and boaters, letting them know who’s the boss. I eat over 40% of my weight each day in phytoplankton and zooplankton (the base of the aquatic food chain) leaving native fish scraping for food. I grow so fast and big that I can easily escape from my predators. Once I reach the Great Lakes, I will easily take over the territory, putting the hurt on native fish and leaving commercial fishermen out of business. But I hear that there’s trouble ahead because you humans are putting up some sort of barrier to keep us out of Lake Michigan.
How can we control you?
In October of 2002, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers worked with Sea Grant and many other water management agencies to install an electric barrier under the Chicago canal to keep us out of the Great Lakes. Anglers and other aquatic enthusiasts ought to be careful when throwing away bait so they don’t accidentally dump tiny baby carp into the Great Lakes.
Reward: The honor of protecting our water resources A healthier environment and more opportunities to enjoy our natural areas.