Long term plans to keep Asian carp out of Great Lakes

Long term plans to keep Asian carp out of Great Lakes

The long term mission to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes is working, and the just-released 2016 Asian Carp Action Plan shows natural resources professionals from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and our federal, state, and local partner agencies and organizations are busy developing and implementing new and increasingly effective ways of keeping the invasive fish from moving into Lake Michigan and beyond.

For those who may not know, Asian carp imported to the U.S. to clean fish farm and retention ponds escaped into the Mississippi River more than 40 years ago, and spread into the Illinois River 30 years ago. Two species of Asian carp—silver and bighead carp—consume the plant and animal plankton that sportfish rely on.

Illinois and the IDNR personnel are on the leading edge of efforts to reduce Asian carp numbers where they exist in the upper Illinois River, and keep those remaining from using the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal as a pathway to the Great Lakes.

The Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee’s 2016 plan includes the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ installation of a third electric fish barrier in the canal at Romeoville; evaluation of new control measures and technologies; and, stepped up contract fishing on the upper Illinois and lower Des Plaines rivers to remove tens of thousands of Asian carp to keep them out of the canal and away from the barriers.

Earlier this spring, IDNR and partner agencies and contract fishermen tested a new strategy for deploying nets and driving fish into them, hauling more than 13,000 silver and bighead carp weighing more than 96,000 pounds out of a backwater river pit near Morris in just over a week. Check the IDNR Facebook page at this link to see photos of the operation: Fish netting photos

Contract fishing is a key to reducing the numbers of Asian carp in the upper Illinois River. Watch a video about it on the IDNR YouTube channel at this link: Contract fishing video.

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