The fight against invasive carp recently came to national attention when, at the end of last year, the Federal Budget was passed with $25m dollars earmarked to fund the good work that the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service and its partners are undertaking across the Mississippi basin.

Potential projects, such as that proposed at  Brandon Road Lock and Dam, seen as one of the last places to try and stop the invasive species from reaching the Great Lakes, will now be funded. This will include an electric barrier, a flushing lock, and potentially a BAFF system that utilises Sound Projectors and High Intensity Lights combined with an air bubble curtain.

A threat to people’s way of life

But beyond the obvious environmental benefits of controlling invasive species, there are also societal and economic reasons. Projects such as Brandon Road in Illinois, and Barkley Lock on the Cumberland River in Kentucky will help protect businesses worth billions of dollars.

Species known collectively as invasive carp – bighead, silver, black and grass carp – were introduced to the Mississippi basin in the 1970s and they now affect thousands of miles of river systems, and are slowly making their way towards the Great Lakes.

The Mississippi River is described by Fortune Magazine as “a massively efficient, natural transportation network that makes U.S. exports more competitive worldwide. Systemic changes will heighten the importance of the Mississippi in the 21st century, and geologists and navigators are hard at work to keep it vital.” Estimates of the annual gross cost of items shipped along the Mississippi vary, but have been valued upwards of $180bn. 

Outside of transportation, recreation and tourism is another huge industry that would be affected by the destruction of local ecosystems due to invasive carp. In Illinois alone, “Outdoor recreation opportunities such as boating, camping, fishing, hunting, picnicking, sightseeing, wildlife observation, swimming and trail use create a $3.2 billion annual economic impact in Illinois, supporting 33,000 jobs statewide.”

Damaging public perception 

In a report published in 2016 by Pepperdine University’s Thomas Just, it was stated that the introduction of invasive species to the Great Lakes basin could change the domination of the lake ecosystem from native fish to invasive carp. Including the potential to damage the public image of these lakes regionally, nationally and internationally.

Projects funded by the 2020 Federal budget will not just protect the fragile ecosystems of the Mississippi basin, but help preserve and grow the industries and communities that make their livelihoods on the rivers and lakes that run through the entire Midwest of America.

For further information on how Fish Guidance Systems is helping to control the spread of invasive carp please visit our minisite.