America, we’ve got a delicious problem on our hands. Enormous fish have invaded our Big River and are threatening to move into the Great Lakes. Asian Carp are breeding fast and pushing native species out of their homes.
Introducing invasive species affects ecosystems dramatically. As native species evolve, they evolve with ecosystems so all parts work together, like cogs in a machine. Adding a species that hasn’t evolved with everything else is like throwing in a wrench: the system just breaks.
And so it goes with both the Silver and Bighead varieties of Asian Carp that now swim through our River. Introduced in the ‘70s to deal with algal blooms in catfish farms, they are voracious eaters. Floods induce spawning, so when the fisheries were flooded, the carp spawned right on over to the Mississippi River. With a robust food supply and no natural predators, Asian Carp are eating all the other fish out of house and home.
Unfortunately, the initial cause of their introduction, algal blooms, was never addressed. Instead of solving the actual cause of the problem, officials tried to just put a band-aid on it. The band-aid has led to an entirely new infection.
Overabundance of algae is mostly caused by agricultural pollution from factory farms. Solving both the Asian Carp infestation and the agricultural pollution will take persistent action.
Luckily, there are small things we can do. In the short term, we have to eat all of these fish! Long term, however, we have to make sure our Congressional agriculture committees make the 2012 Farm Bill favorable to both farmers and the overall health of the Mississippi River.