Indiana's attorney general and the federal government's Asian carp director are touring the Wabash River to raise awareness about the risk that invasive fish pose.
Joining Attorney General Greg Zoeller on the first leg of the Wabash River tour is John Goss, director of the federal government's Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee, part of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. Starting Monday from Paradise Springs Park in Wabash, they are traveling on a borrowed speedboat downriver to Peru and Logansport and will meet with members of the Wabash River Heritage Corridor Commission.
Between Tuesday and Thursday, Zoeller plans to continue downriver to meet with local residents, groups and officials in Lafayette, Clinton, Terre Haute, Merom, Vincennes and New Harmony as the Wabash winds its way through west-central and southwestern Indiana, according to a news release from his office.
The non-native Asian carp, including silver carp and bighead carp, have spread northward up the Mississippi River since they were inadvertently released from fish hatcheries in the South in the 1970s. Two populations of Asian carp are known to inhabit segments of the Wabash River. If the voracious carp become more widely established in Indiana waterways and the Great Lakes and compete for plankton, they could disrupt the food chain and displace native fish species, and that could harm the recreational and commercial fishing industries.
The largest of the Asian carp can grow to four feet long and 90 pounds, and the silver carp's characteristic of jumping out of the water in large numbers at the sound of passing outboard motors can potentially injure boaters.
To prevent the spread of the carp into Lake Michigan, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers currently operates electric barriers in waterways outside Chicago, and a chain-link fence was installed across Eagle Marsh near Fort Wayne to prevent the invasive fish from spreading through Maumee River tributaries into Lake Erie.