It’s just a matter of time, most experts agree, until Asian carp start showing up in the Great Lakes. And while many foretell of impending doom, at least one scientist thinks it’s not going to be as bad as everyone thinks.
From this story in the Columbus Dispatch
_The threat to the Great Lakes posed by Asian carp has been greatly exaggerated, says an Ohio State professor who claims the experience to form a learned opinion. “I’ve been working with the fish for 15 years,” said Konrad Dabrowski, an aquaculturist with the School of Environment and Natural Resources. There have been forecasts of doom for sport and commercially desirable species such as walleye and yellow perch should the invasive carp be let loose.
“…I’ve been following the popular literature as well as the scientific literature,” he said, not without irony, and has been astonished by the amount of what he characterizes as public “misinformation,” including some testimony presented to Congress. Dabrowski’s stance indicated in the title of a summary statement he recently e-mailed to The Dispatch. The title says without equivocation: Asian carps pose no danger to Great Lakes. While acknowledging the problems posed by the carp in numerous river systems, Dabrowski said the conditions that allow the carp to thrive in flowing rivers do not exist in the Great Lakes or its natural tributaries. Both silver carp, which have gained notoriety because of their leaping behavior in the presence of passing boat motors, and bighead carp, which grow large and eat tiny planktons on which the young of native species also feed, can survive in the Great Lakes, Dabrowski concurs.
However, he writes that “the fundamental question is whether Asian carps that enter Lake Michigan and subsequently other Great Lakes can reproduce. In other words, will they be able to maintain or increase their populations, and eventually outcompete the local and prized sport-fish populations?” The answer, he has concluded based on observations in numerous real-world settings and on what is known about the spawning process of the carp, is no. He writes, in fact, that the reasons both species of Asian carp can thrive in parts of the Missouri River “are precisely the same reasons why they will not flourish in the Great Lakes.” In order to spawn successfully, Dabrowski says, water flow and temperature must be elevated to certain thresholds simultaneously. Nowhere in the Great Lakes, including the Maumee River, do such conditions line up.”_