The extremely high water in the Illinois River last week made me think of invasive species.
Thanks to high water periods, we got the dreaded Asian carp. Like forms of water pollution, the vast majority of invasive species enter, or are introduced into a system by human activity.
The Asian carp, our worse invasive, got into the Mississippi River during the flood of 1996. The carp were brought into catfish rearing ponds in the state of Arkansas from China to keep algae in check. The flood ran over the ponds and the carp got into the river. Because they are so prolific, they now occupy almost every waterway in the United States.
They feed on two types of plankton — zooplankton and phytoplankton. Both are microscopic and are hard to see. The main problem is these substances are important to gizzard shad and emerald shiners, the two basic foods for our native predatory fish.
In addition Asian carp spawn three times a year and grow huge in a very short time. I have already noticed a decrease in some river species in our area. I can’t prove this theory but this scenario didn’t exist before the invasion.
Other invaders include round gobies and zebra mussels, European Green crab, Eurasian ruffe and many weed types. Many of these invaders are transported by recreational boaters and fishermen. Any time one places his boat in a waterway an invader can be in your live well or attached to your trailer. The even attached to an anchor or rope. When one travels to another lake or river they are spread in that manner.
Ways to prevent the spread of invaders are: Spray your boat and trailer with high-pressure water and then try to rinse with hot water after each use. Drain and flush the motor, live well, bilge and transom wells with hot water. Remove all visible vegetation from you boat, propeller. Including anchors, trailers and any other equipment that made contact with the water. Dry your boat and equipment before entering another body of water.
Once in any waterway, invasive species and weeds are very hard to remove. Finally, the powers to be are promoting commercial fishing to try to eliminate some of the Asian carp. This will not only create jobs that most of the politicians use on their campaign trails but can bring more income back into the United States.
The state of Illinois has constructed electrical barriers near some of the locks near the Great Lakes. While this may deter some of the carp it is mostly lip service. Some of the bighead carp already have been found in Lake Erie. These devices put a high cost to the taxpayers in our state as well.
Other states want to cut off our river systems from the Great Lakes to preserve their income generated by charter boats. The idea of protection for the Great Lakes now is a mission. How about our Illinois and Mississippi rivers? Are they not indeed, important as well? Get off your pompous duffs and do something that can be effective.