The Michigan Department of Natural Resources last week sent several fisheries staff to assist the Illinois DNR with an ongoing Asian carp removal project. The goal of the project is to respond to the leading edge and reduce population levels of Asian carp threatening the Great Lakes via the Chicago Area Waterway System. While there, Michigan staff assisted the Illinois DNR and commercial anglers in capturing and removing bighead and silver carp from reaches of the Illinois River south of Chicago. Although Asian carp (bighead or silver) are not present in any Michigan waters, this training provided critical knowledge to the Michigan DNR for potential future response efforts. Methods used during the course of this training exercise included gillnetting, seining and electrofishing. All fish caught and removed were provided to a processor to make fertilizer. Eleven Michigan DNR staff members spent multiple days last week on the project. Another fisheries team conducted similar work in 2014. The DNR’s participation in this effort highlights its continued collaboration and dedication to addressing Asian carp issues in Michigan. In addition to this recent training exercise, the DNR also has coordinated and participated in other field efforts to increase preparedness and implement portions of the state’s Asian Carp Management Plan. These include a field exercise on the St. Joseph River in the fall of 2013 and a multi-jurisdictional field exercise, co-led with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, on Lake Erie in the fall of 2014. “Opportunities like the one we participated in last week are critical to maintaining regional collaboration and helping to reduce the Asian carp population that’s currently threatening the Great Lakes,” said DNR Senior Water Policy Advisor Tammy Newcomb. “The efforts provide valuable opportunities to help us address any Asian carp issues that threaten our state’s waters while we work toward additional preventative solutions in Illinois.” For more information on Asian carp, visit michigan.gov/asiancarp.
Special event highlights threat of invasive species to Great Lakes The West Michigan Environmental Action Council (WMEAC) and San Chez Bistro put Asian carp on the menu as part of an exclusive culinary event to benefit efforts to keep the notorious invasive species out of the Great Lakes. “Fight ‘em & Fillet ‘em” highlighted efforts to keep the notorious invasive species out of West Michigan waterways as part of a fun, informative and tasty evening of adventurous eating and cocktails. Featured speakers were John Goss, Asian carp director at the Council on Environmental Quality, and Dan O’Keefe, Michigan Sea Grant Southwest District extension educator. Asian carp are invasive species of fish found in the Mississippi River Basin that are rapidly making their way toward Lake Michigan via the Chicago Waterway System. Of concern in our region are two species of fish native to Asia, commonly known as silver and bighead carp. These fish are voracious eaters that threaten the Great Lakes’ ecosystem by out-competing other plankton-feeding aquatic species at the bottom of the food chain, with the potential to negatively impact recreational and commercial fisheries and the industries that depend on them. Commonly associated with widely circulated videos of “flying” or “attack” fish, Asian carp can weigh up to 100 pounds and have been known to leap out of the water when disturbed by boats, a threat to boaters, water skiers and equipment. Widely described as a cross between crab meat and scallops, Asian carp are earning solid reviews from chefs throughout the Mississippi River Basin, where state leaders are attempting to re-brand the fish as “Silverfin” or “Kentucky Tuna” in an effort to thin their population and keep local fishermen working. From a biological standpoint, Asian carp are quite different from common carp, which are bottom feeders. “Although I hear it’s delicious, I don’t think anyone would like to see Asian carp as the catch of the day in West Michigan waters,” said WMEAC Executive Director Rachel Hood. “This is a way to draw awareness to the threat of Asian carp and other invasive species to Lake Michigan and West Michigan’s waterways… and to have a good time doing it.” The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has announced it is embarking on a four-year, […]