Thursday, August 13, 2009

Asian Carp Too Close to Home

Last night when we went out for a stroll after dinner, the streets alongside the harbor were lined with cars. I know that on Thursday when the city municipal center at the corner hosts the Peanut Butter and Jam music series, cars line the streets but I knew of nothing happening last night.

“Looks like someone is having a party,” I commented to my husband.

“I think it’s the fish,” he responded as he pointed toward the harbor wall, which was lined with anglers of all ages.

This is an active time of year for fishing. Fishing is a big deal here, both along the harbor and out on the lake. This morning on my bike ride I rode past the Salmon and Trout Rearing Pond sponsored by the Kenosha SportFishing And Conservation Association in conjunction with
Wisconsin DNR which stocks the lake with Chinook salmon, another sign of how important fishing is to this city. You can see it on the sign for Pennoyer Park, which is adjacent to the pond, too.

Yesterday I heard on the radio that Asian carp, those huge jumping fish that are funny in videos but are not so funny in reality, are very close to the Lake Michigan. This invasive species, which have been swimming up the Mississippi River and through the Illinois River for several years, could devastate sport and commercial fishing as well as the entire Great Lakes ecosystem. A few year ago the Army Corp of Engineers built an electric fence at the Chicago Sanitary and Shipping Canal to keep them out of Lake Michigan and now these aggressive fish are close to testing that fence. As with so many other projects of the Corps, this one has its controversies, too, and whether it will really work remains to be seen.

I learned this morning that these fish like cold water better than the warmer waters they have been in and would love to get their fins into our lakes, eat their way into the food chain and destroy all the salmon, trout and other fish at the top of the chain as well as the little stuff at the bottom. I also learned that according to Chinese legend Asian Carp are good luck and so people have intentionally released them into Lake Ontario. Ontario has already outlawed this practice, but one wonders if it is too late.

In an article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel earlier this week, Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.) said that the EPA and government officials were aware of the Asian Carp problem, but she added that she didn't expect any immediate action from Congress to prod federal authorities because members of the House are on recess. It seems to me that our representatives have a few things on their minds during their recess. Now they can add Asian Carp to the list.

You can see these jumping fish as well as learn more about them on You Tube . On a gentler note, this heron was sitting at the mouth of the Pike River when I rode by on my way home this morning. He (or she) is not an invader to our ecosystem but a part of it and a welcome addition to the scene.

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