“You’ll never stop me, G man!”
You probably didn’t even know that the humble carp, an oily fish belonging to the Eurasian family Cyprinidae (which includes goldfish), constituted a problem.
The Chinese and Japanese think carp are beautiful and keep them in ponds for ornamental purposes.
Carp is an important staple in Continental European cuisine, most familiar in America in the form of the Jewish Gefilte fish.
Carp are popular with anglers in Europe, and to British bait fishermen a good carp can represent a real trophy. Isaac Walton claimed, in the Compleat Angler (1653), that
The Carp is the queen of rivers; a stately, a good, and a very subtle fish; that was not at first bred, nor hath been long in England, but is now naturalised.”
But for the Federal government, carp are a SERIOUS PROBLEM. One requiring yet another Czar.
The White House has tapped a former leader of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources and the Indiana Wildlife Federation as the Asian carp czar to oversee the federal response to keeping the invasive species out of the Great Lakes.
On a conference call today with Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin and other congressional leaders, President Obama’s Council on Environmental Quality announced the selection of John Goss to lead the near $80 million, multi-pronged federal attack against Asian carp.
“This is a serious challenge, a serious threat,” Durbin said. “When it comes to the Asian carp threat, we are not in denial. We are not in a go-slow mode. We are in a full attack, full-speed ahead mode. We want to stop this carp from advancing.”
Asian carp, which have steadily moved toward Chicago since the 1990s, present a challenge for scientists and fish biologists. The fish are aggressive eaters, consuming as much as 40 percent of their body weight a day in plankton, and frequently beat out native fish for food, threatening those populations.
They are also prolific breeders with no natural predators in the U.S. The fish were imported in the 1970s to help wastewater treatment facilities in the South keep their retention ponds clean. Mississippi River flooding allowed the fish to escape and then move into the Missouri and Illinois rivers. Some species can grow to more than 100 pounds.
The challenge for Goss, who was director of the Indiana DNR under two governors and served for four years as the executive director of the Indiana National Wildlife Federation, will be to make sure millions in federal money is spent efficiently, to oversee several on-going studies — including one looking into the possibility of permanently shutting down the Chicago waterway system linking Lake Michigan to the Mississippi River–and to bring together Great Lakes states currently locked in a courtroom battle over the response to the Asian carp threat.
Does anyone seriously believe that $80 million spent on studies and the creation of a Federal Asian Carp Directorate is really going to stop these frisky critters?
I certainly don’t.
“Free as birds!”