Trout Unlimited Canada’s Stop the Spread campaign focuses on preventing the spread and impact of invasive species and pathogens that threaten Canada’s fisheries. There are a number of invasive species threatening Canada’s water. Meet the Asian Carp.
Asian Carp arrived from Asia to North America in the 1960s and 70s. Since their initial introduction, Asian Carp have steadily migrated north through American waterways towards the Great lakes. There are four different species of Asian Carp in North America Bighead, Black, Grass and Silver.
Once introduced, Asian Carp spread quickly through canal and river systems. In the Chicago Area Waterway System, the spread was unbelievably rapid. Humans also aid the spread of Asian Carp through the use of live bait, ballast water, cultural and religious releases, live trade and pond aquaculture and management.
Impact of the Asian Carp to the Environment
Due to their ability to adapt to a wide range of environmental conditions Asian Carp spread at an exponential pace making them difficult to control and eradicate. Asian Carp are voracious feeders depleting waterbodies of microscopic animal and plant life. Consumption of aquatic plants which would otherwise provide cover from predators for native juvenile fish and potential spawning habitat. The presence of Asian Carp also aids the potential introduction of other parasites, such as the Asian Tapeworm.
Silver Asian Carp are particularly dangerous to boaters and water skiers. The vibration of boat propellers elicits an escape response causing Silver Carp to jump up to three meters out of the water. Images and videos of jumping Asian Carp are common on the internet and through social media channels. Boaters and water skiers have been seriously injured as a result of an impact with a jumping Asian Carp.
Why Should We Care?
- Asian Carp significantly alter habitat. They can completely change the natural bottom substrate of lakes and streams by uprooting aquatic plants, negatively affecting water clarity and productivity.
- The foraging habits of Asian Carp compete with native fishes for both food and habitat. During the course of a single day, Asian Carp can eat up to 40% of their body weight! They also prey on native fish and destroy the natural balance within the food chain.
- Asian Carp act as carriers for diseases or parasites that could spread to native fishes that have no natural immunity.
The reproductive power of Asian Carp can be overwhelming, easily outcompeting native fish reproduction rates including popular sportfish pursued by anglers.
- Leaping Asian carp physically hurt humans. Each year boaters, water skiers and others are seriously injured after being struck by leaping Asian Carp.
- Asian Carp cost taxpayers. Millions of dollars are spent annually trying to control and eliminate Asian Carp
How Can You Stop the Spread?
There are four ways you can help Stop the Spread of Asian Carp
- Never move fish species from one water body to another
- If you see someone moving fish from one water body to another, observe their actions, record what you see and report it right away to the appropriate authorities.
- Talk and inform others about the dangers of Asian Carp and other aquatic invasives.
- Support Trout Unlimited Canada’s Stop the Spread program.