There had been some debate among carp experts about whether the Asian carp would flourish in the Great Lakes.
A recent study by U.S. Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada found that the fish could indeed thrive if they enter the Great Lakes system.
There would be ample food to sustain the invasive species. Cold water would not stop the voracious fish.
The questions everyone has been asking are: Can a breeding population survive in the Great Lakes, and would it be a significant problem if they did? said U.S. Geological Survey Director Marcia McNutt. Now we know the answers and unfortunately they are yes and yes, she observed.
The report by the Binational Ecological Risk Assessment, which included researchers, managers and decision-makers, found that the Great Lakes are similar enough to the Asian carps native range. It would take only 10 adult males and females to start an Asian carp population: they would have a 50 percent chance of successfully spawning.
Once the carp are established, they could spread throughout the Great Lakes in 20 years, consuming plankton and causing declines in native fish populations.
The study adds to previous reports that tell us that everything must be done to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes system.
There are electric barriers in the Chicago Area Waterway System. Other control methods are being tried. Waters around Chicago are being monitored. The Army Corps of Engineers is working on a permanent solution to the Asian carp problem.
The fact that three healthy Asian carp have been captured in Lake Erie should intensify efforts to keep the invaders out.
Now we know: they can survive and thrive.