Giant, leaping Asian carp threaten US Great Lakes

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CHICAGO, January 20, 2010 (AFP) – Huge Asian carp, which act like “aquatic vacuum cleaners” and leap into the air when spooked by motorboats, may have invaded the US Great Lakes despite a massive effort to block them, officials said Tuesday. Researchers analyzing water samples have discovered fragments of Asian carp DNA in Lake Michigan, although there is still no evidence that that fast-breeding fish have breached electric barriers set up along Chicago-area waterways.

“Clearly this is not good news,” said Major General John Peabody, commanding general of the US Army Corps of Engineers’ Great Lakes and Ohio River division.

The Corps is one of a host of state and federal agencies working to stop the spread of the voracious carp which can grow up to seven feet long (2.1 meters) and weigh 150 pounds (68 kilos).

Federal officials have warned that Asian carp – which have no natural predators – could have a “devastating effect on the Great Lakes ecosystem and a significant economic impact” on the seven-billion-dollar sport and commercial fishing industry.

“From what we have seen in other parts of the country, Asian carp could out-compete our native, sport and commercial fish in southern Lake Michigan,” Charlie Wooley, deputy reg