If the Asian carp reach the Great Lakes, it’s all over.
Last week, the US Army Corps of Engineers approved a $778 million request to fund the battle against this bugle-mouthed menace, and now only approval from Congress stands in the way.
The Asian carp is a voracious monster of a freshwater fish. Up to four feet long from teeth to tail, it can weigh eighty pounds and live almost forty decades. Its ability to survive is legendary; it could thrive in a pool of diesel. It can tolerate high salinity, low temperatures, low oxygen, leap six feet into the air and eat virtually anything it can fit in its greedy mouth.
It doesn’t kill other fish directly, but, like a coward, through starvation and attrition. Once it reaches a body of water, it simply gulps down the food supply and reproduces, happily allowing native aquatic populations to waste away. The entire ecosystem of the Illinois River and Des Plaines River has suffered under the siege of the Asian carp, and now this fish is poised to invade the Great Lakes.
Time is running out. According to the US Army, the reconnaissance arm of the Asian carp population is less than 50 miles from Lake Michigan, and inching closer every day.
Luckily, the Army has access to a strategic bottleneck at the Brandon Road Lock and Dam on the Des Plaines River, just southwest of Joilet, Illinois. With funds from Congress, the latest in area-denial technology will descend on the approaching fish:
—A mighty air-bubble curtain, codenamed [REDACTED], which confuses fish with fizziness.
—Installed underwater speakers designed to blast curious Asian carp with uncomfortably loud noises.
—The addition of even more powerful and numerous electric barriers, which deliver a nasty shock.
—[REDACTED] water cannons above the electric barriers, which deliver a steady jet of water strong enough to knock back an 80 pound carp mid-leap.
The Asian carp is real. The threat to the Great Lakes is real. The choke-point at the Brandon Road Lock and Dam is real, but carefully codenamed The Brandon Road Lock and Dam Project to disguise its purpose and location.
The US Army Corps of Engineers has done all it can, and patiently awaits the debate and decision of the US Congress. The Great Lakes stand among the greatest of US resources, in utility, commerce, and culture. With this as risk, it is no longer time for half-measures in combatting the menacing plague of the Asian carp.
Anti-Asian carp advocate Senator Debbie Stabenow (D—Lansing) believes this report and recommendation is the solution needed to protect American ecosystems not just now, but for generations to come, by crushing the Asian carp into oblivion.
“Most importantly,” said the senator, “this report gives Congress what it needs to authorize funding for the project and finally advance a much-needed, long-term solution.”