Michigan taking the lead on Asian carp efforts

This silver carp was caught in a gill net by commercial fishermen on June 22 a mere nine miles from Lake Michigan. (Photo courtesy of USFWS)

The state of Michigan put out a call for innovative solutions to the potential for Asian carp to enter the Great Lakes and they got potential answers to the plague in spades.

The Great Lakes Invasive Carp Challenge received 353 entries from 27 countries. The challenge, hosted by global crowd-sourcing company InnoCentive, netted new ideas and raised the global profile of this issue, according to a recent report on The Outdoor Wire.

“Invasive carp pose a serious and growing threat to the economy and ecology of our Great Lakes,” said Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder. “The Invasive Carp Challenge has unleashed the creativity and power of the entrepreneural community to find the best ways to protect one of Michigan’s most prized natural resources. I’m looking forward to the results of this challenge and how to put some of these ideas in action.”

These potential “solutions” will be reviewed by an expert panel of judges, and up to eight of them will be selected for awards of $25,000. The winners of the “first stage solutions” will be announced in February, The Outdoor Wire reports.

For the final awards, a select number of the first-stage winners will be invited to present their ideas to a live audience of judges, industry experts, non-profit organizations, and venture capital representatives for additional cash awards of up to a half-million dollars.

This is citizen science at work. The live event will take place sometime in March in Detroit.

Snyder announced the Invasive Carp Challenge during his state of the state address in January 2017. The Outdoor Wire reports that the state of Michigan pledged $1 million to seek innovative methods to prevent the movement of invasive carp into Lake Michigan from the Illinois River through the Chicago Area Waterway System.

Experts have said that these carp pose a significant threat to the Great Lakes ecosystem, the $7 billion fishery, and other economic interests tied to the Great Lakes and its tributaries, The Outdoor Wire reports.

For some background, in June 2017, a 28-inch silver carp was caught about 9 miles from Lake Michigan beyond the electric barrier system designed to keep these fish out of the Great Lakes. A subsequent analysis of the fish by Southern Illinois University determined that the carp had spent anywhere from a few weeks to a few months in the section of river where it was found. There was no indication of how the fish ended up beyond the electric barrier.

This finding paired with another of a bighead carp in 2010 underscores the need for some type of solution to the potential plague, according to the state of Michigan.

Here, here. Kudos to those in charge in Michigan for first acknowledging that it doesn’t have a viable solution and secondly for reaching out for help.

In Ohio, Lake Erie is at just as much if not more of a risk for these invasive fish than Lake Michigan. The Ohio DNR Division of Wildlife and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have spent considerable time and effort searching Lake Erie for problematic species.

But, where is Gov. John Kasich on this issue? He has been largely silent, instead of following the lead of Gov. Snyder and trying to get out ahead of this looming problem.

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