Carp's approach: A voracious fish edges closer to the Great Lakes


One Asian carp discovered six miles from Lake Michigan does not mean apocalypse now for the Great Lakes. But it does mean the Army Corps of Engineers and Great Lakes states don't have years to fix a problem that could have far-reaching environmental and economic ramifications.

The 20-pound, 3-foot-long bighead carp found close to the Great Lakes has alarmed many and renewed calls for swift action to block their advance. It's troublesome that, for the first time, the fish managed to get past multiple electric barriers erected along Chicago waterways to keep the species out of the Great Lakes system.

Environmental advocates say the claim that the fish find is an aberration and doesn't mean more of the voracious, non-native carp are nearby is absurd. If one breached the barriers, designed to prevent them from migrating from the Mississippi River, more followed, which increases the urgency to get better protection in place.

The carp destroy ecosystems by gorging themselves and starving other species. If they become established in the Great Lakes, they could ruin the $7 billion fishing industry. Michigan is again demanding that shipping locks on the Chicago waterways be shut down, even though the U.S. Supreme Court has twice rejected that option.

It's clear the disturbing revelation in a waterway on the south side of Chicago requires immediate action to produce an emergency plan. Without it, the country could face another economic and ecological disaster besides the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

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