Asian carp are a species of fish native to East Asian countries, such as China, but are known to invade freshwater ecosystems around the world. There are numerous kinds of Asian carp, including Grass carp, Bighead carp, Silver carp, and Black Carp.
After a three decade infestation in the Mississippi River Basin, Asian Carp changed the entire population of the area. The carp were found in the early 1990s in the Mississippi, Missouri and Illinois rivers. The introduction of the foreign species into these waters disturbed natural marine life, endangered indigenous species of fish and harmed many fishermen.
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In December 2009, scientists found the fish's DNA in the Chicago River, a feeder into the Great Lakes. An electric barrier was set up, and numerous chemicals were used to kill off foreign species of fish. Of the forty-odd species of dead fish that turned up from this extermination, none of them were species of Asian carp.
It was only six months later that the first Bighead fish was found in Lake Calumet, a body of water closely connected to the Great Lakes. The discovery of the fish in the Great Lakes has sparked political and social controversy. States have filed lawsuits against one another and the federal government has dedicated almost $80 million towards the cause.
Scientist are currently exploring methods to keep the Asian carp species from ruining the almost $7 billion fishing industry in the Great Lakes Region.
Text by Jessica Leader
(Photo: M. Spencer Green/AP)