The Big Story Blog

3 things to know about the silver carp

Posted at 3:20 PM on October 21, 2011 by Paul Tosto
Filed under: Environment

silvercarpphoto.png
(Department of Fisheries and Allied Aquacultures, Auburn University)

News that experts had found DNA evidence confirming the destructive silver carp has made it up the Mississippi as far north as St. Paul's Ford Dam got us looking today for information and insight into the beast.

Here are a few things we learned today.

1.) Shutting down the locks might cause more problems. Stopping the silver carp at the Ford Dam would mean closing the locks to traffic. Sounds good until you hear about the thousands of trucks that will be added to the highways to ship the goods now being sent by barge.

2.) They are scary and will eat everything. It's hard to overestimate the potential destructive power of the silver carp. It can consume two or three times it weight in food every day, competing directly with all native fish and mussels. It can wreck ecosystems.

And when you see video of the 60 pound fish leap startled from the water and toward someone's head, you don't need a lot of further convincing that this could be a serious problem in Minnesota.

3.) Someone loves them. Maybe the most interesting item we came across today is that fishermen and processors along the Illinois River have built a healthy business catching the Asian carp here and selling them into markets back in Asia, where the fish remains a popular food item but where dams and pollution have damaged the carp population.

Huge demand for any fish always brings worries of overfishing. With any luck, the huge overseas demand for the silver carp will lead to its demise.

Learn anything today about the silver carp that we missed? Post something below or contact us directly.


About Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto writes the Big Story Blog for MPR News. He joined the newsroom in 2008 after more than 20 years reporting on education, politics and the economy for news wires and newspapers across the country.