Lake Michigan's Bighead problem

by Leslie Turk

Louisiana's isn't alone in its battle with the Bighead Asian Carp. You may remember back in January that we reported on the challenges Louisiana officials were having with an invasive freshwater fish known as Bighead Asian Carp. That's when the state Wildlife and Fisheries Commission created special fishing regulations to push the Bigheads out of local waters.

Here's the problem: Carp can grow up to 50 pounds, posing a threat to boaters and their equipment. These are tough fish. When they were originally brought into the U.S. for farming, no one thought much about a few escaping because experts suspected they would never survive in south Louisiana. But they have, and they compete with native fish for food.

Now it appears Louisiana's isn't alone in this fight. Here's what The Daily Michigan reported earlier in the week:

Though efforts have been made to keep the Bighead Asian carp at bay and out of the Great Lakes, the recent discovery of a carp beyond the electrical barrier system in place at the Chicago Area Waterway System has left many wildlife experts uneasy. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service reported the discovery of an Asian carp - an invasive species that has ravaged the Mississippi and Illinois river systems - about 6 miles downstream of Lake Michigan, according to a press release issued last week.

The IDNR has been sampling the Chicago Area Waterway System since February in search of both Bighead and Silver Asian carp. The fish caught in Lake Calumet on Jun. 22 by a commercial fisherman contracted by the IDNR measured 34.6 inches long and weighed 19.6 pounds.

While officials there are clearly utilizing an electrical barrier, you probably remember what was among Louisiana's first responses: to eat the fish. A marketing plan was unveiled earlier this year that included a name change from Asian carp to "silverfin." For more on that, click here.