What We Do to Stop Asian Carp

Asian Carp

The National Wildlife Federation is at the forefront of the battle to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes.

Separation of the Great Lakes from waterways in the Mississippi River Basin is critical to protecting the Great Lakes from Asian carp, and the National Wildlife Federation is leading the charge for permanent solutions.

NWF is also working with state and federal agencies on a management plan for the Chicago canals that link Lake Michigan to the Mississippi River, and successfully obtained federal funding from Congress for fish barriers.

Addressing Flaws in the Proposed Asian Carp Study

Right now, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is under orders from Congress to develop a study on effective methods of preventing the spread of Asian carp and other aquatic invasive species like zebra and quagga mussels that were introduced in the ballast water of ocean-goings ships.

However, the proposed Great Lakes Mississippi River Interbasin Study has serious flaws that undermine its ability to identify an effective prevention strategy. NWF submitted extensive comments to the Corps in response to the flawed study proposal along with a letter of support from 108 organizations, and testified at public hearings on the study.

Problems with the preliminary Great Lakes Mississippi River Interbasin Study Project Management Plan produced by the Army Corps of Engineers to prevent the transfer of invasive species between the Basins include:

  • Congress directed the Corps to "prevent the transfer of invasive species" between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins. However, the Corps intends to examine strategies that only "reduce the risk" of Asian carp entering the Great Lakes. This is different from what Congress directed the Corps to do.

  • Hydrologic separation of the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins is the only permanent and sustainable method of preventing movement of aquatic invaders between the basins. NWF urges the Corps to limit research to strategies involving complete hydrologic separation;

  • The Corps study will take a minimum of five years, which is far too slow for this crisis situation. NWF urges the Corps to produce results within 18 months;

  • Forty percent of the area of Great Lakes is within Canada. NWF urges the Corps to hold public meetings in Canada to hear stakeholders concerns on the impact of a possible Asian carp invasion on shared international waters, and;

  • NWF urges the Corps to hold regular discussion forums throughout the duration of the Study to answer questions from the public.

Great Lakes and Mississippi River Basins Separation

If done right, hydrologic separation will involve smart investments that establish new infrastructure in the Chicago area that make the region more globally competitive. Hydrologic separation will also improve water quality and wildlife habitat by upgrading treatment of wastewater and storm water. The result can be a revitalized Chicago Waterway System that:

  • Closes the highway for invasive species;
  • Enhances Chicago's transportation system;
  • Creates local and regional jobs;
  • Reduces business costs across the region, and;
  • Improves water quality, tourism, and recreation.

NWF is researching each of the 18 other pathways cited in the Great Lakes Mississippi River Interbasin Study as possible avenues for Asian carp and other aquatic invaders to access the Great Lakes. We will we work with the Army Corps of Engineers to ensure that we close the door on invasive species that are migrating between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River Basins.

Related Resources
What Scientists are Really Saying about Asian carp in the Great Lakes 

Research indicates that Asian carp could survive in the Great Lakes.

Asian Carp Factsheet 

How and why NWF is fighting to keep Asian carp from taking hold in the Great Lakes.

National Wildlife Magazine 

Carp Attack: Five things you need to know about the fish that might destroy the Great Lakes

Great Lakes Restoration

What NWF is doing to protect and restore the largest freshwater ecosystem on Earth.

Great Lakes Regional Center

The NWF Great Lakes Regional Center is at the heart of the fight to protect the Great Lakes.

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Asian Carp Invasion

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was authorized by Congress on November 1, 2007 to study how to prevent Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes.