Asian Carp's Harm To The Ecosystem

1153 words - 5 pages

There is a great big debate over whether the Asian Carp should be considered a menace and about what we should do about them. Grass, Bighead, Black, and Silver Carp are all Asian carp species. According to Keith Lawrence of the Messenger-Inquirer, Carp are being made into fertilizer, and fish oil, as well as being sold to Asia as food products. However, the New York Times say that the Carp could easily put an end to the $7 million dollar fishing industry in the Great Lakes. Aside from economic reasons for keeping or eliminating them, the main reason to stop them from spreading is the fact that they threaten to collapse the entire ecosystem if they get out of control. Asian Carp are detrimental as an invasive species due to their adaptability, reproductive capability, their appetite, as well as their impact on native species.
First, the Asian Carp are all very adaptable when it comes to the conditions in which they can survive. Carp are able to survive in frozen lakes as long as they can reach the surface; they are also able to survive in very warm climates. Carp are also able to eat a broad variety of foods so they can get nutrition from things most fish can’t. The Asian Carp have a great capacity to hear sounds which make them cautious fish. The Carp range in weight from 40 lbs to 100lbs; this massive size and weight means that they have a small number of predators. Even though they are large fish, they are fairly bony, and the meat has very little market in America. When the oxygen in the water is in short supply the Carp can swallow air from the surface of the water, which means that they can live is small bodies of water such as swamps as well as large ones like lakes. With all of this it seems that Carp are some of the most adaptable fish on the planet.
Next, the reproductive capabilities of the Asian Carp species are very impressive. According to Wikipedia.org an Asian Carp, on average, will lay up to 300,000 eggs at a time. Carp can also spawn more than once a year, and when you combine that with an average lifespan of 50 years that adds up to 30 million eggs in one female Carp’s lifespan. With no predators the Carp population can and will increase exponentially until it is the only fish in the water. A person could say that we should introduce the natural predator of the Carp as a game fish; however that would be an even bigger mistake than introducing the Carp. This is ironic considering that the common carp was introduced to the United States as a game fish. Unfortunately for those who introduced the carp it is now a nuisance and is actually pushing out desirable native game fish by their sheer numbers. It has been suggested to expose the invasive Carp to the Koi herpes virus which is fatal to Carp species, but there are questions about whether this virus could evolve into something that could affect all native Cyprinids.
Then, the broad spectrum of the Carp diet allows it to take advantage of the resources other...

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