Asian Carp continue to be a clear and present threat to the Great Lakes as they try to migrate up the Mississippi River system from the southern United States. The US Army Corps of Engineers have built three electric fences in the Chicago diversion canal which is the most likely pathway that Asian Carp could use to enter Lake Michigan. These barriers emit low level electricity into the water that has been sufficient to stop the advance of these invasive fish. Targeted poison that biodegrades has also been used in the canal and adjoining river to knock back populations of these fish particularly when the fences have had to be turned off for maintenance. Another vector for possible infiltration of Asian Carp into the Great Lakes are during unusual rain events which leads to some of the Mississippi tributaries to overflow their banks and possibly spill into small streams that could ultimately flow into one of the Great Lakes. With the amount of rain we have experienced this year it is likely that some river overflow has occurred. The third and last possible way for Carp to get into the Great Lakes is through people inadvertently releasing them either as released bait fish or as mature adults. There was a time not long ago that companies were importing live Asian Carp from the US into Canada to sell in fish markets. There is a demand for such live fish by some Asian customers. The Ontario government banned the practice of importing live fish two years ago.
As it stands right now invasive Grass Carp have been found in small numbers in Lakes Ontario and Erie. MNRF has been working with their US counterparts to DNA sample these fish to determine where exactly they came from and to determine if they have been able to successfully breed. The most recent and more alarming find has been a Silver Carp on the Great Lakes side of the electric barriers 14 Kilometers from Lake Michigan. Toronto Star article June 23rd, 2017 .
Over the past 6 years GBA has written to both our Federal and Provincial governments expressing our concern about Asian Carp. We have made deputations to the International Joint Commission and signed onto several petitions that have been circulated by fellow Non-Government Organizations. Most recently we have added our voice to others who were lobbying US elected officials to not support the White House’s call for a $290 million US cut to Great Lakes funding. Part of that money supports the work of the US Army Corps of Engineers in thwarting the advance of Asian Carp, and field research into the few escapes that seem to have made it into the Lakes, or at least past the electric barriers. The White House backed down on their cuts for 2017 but are advocating for cuts to the Great Lakes budget in 2018 and beyond.