The Fight Against Asian Carp Continues In SD
by Jeff Rusack, Reporter
July 16, 2013 10:05 PM
Asian Carp, you know them when you see them, they're the floppy fish that defy gravity for a second or two then splash back down into the water.
This summer, the invasive species continues its rampage up the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers but, what, other massive dams, like Gavins Point Dam in Yankton, can be done to stop these ecological terrors?
The lakes of Okoboji, a calm string of water that attracts people from hundreds of miles away, two years ago the safety of these lakes was in question.
“Once we knew that Asian Carp were knocking on the door and actually getting into the Iowa Great Lakes there were a lot of questions. Especially, the ecological impacts these jumping fish could have,” said Mike Hawkings, a fisheries biologist for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
These Asian or Silver Carp seen on the James River near Yankton can be problematic to boaters. But, when they're not flying through the air, they're eating, and giving native species extra competition.
With hundreds of businesses dependent on the Iowa Great Lakes, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and the businesses themselves took action.
“We just finished with construction. All the major construction components are now complete,” said Hawkings. “Seven pulsators are hooked up to the system and as the water goes over those electrodes there is an electrical field. That is what's not passable by those fish.”
So when any fish, especially the Asian Carp, tries to enter lakes, they get a little zap.
“Right now the barrier is running on the electricity of 6 light bulbs,” said Hawkings. “If you look close enough you can actually see their fin pulse with the electricity when their fin is out of the water.”
But, would an electric barrier like the one they have in Okoboji be helpful for waterways in South Dakota, like the James River or even the Missouri River?
“The problem with something like that in South Dakota is The James River is probably or something like that would have worked out. But, we've already had the carp go through there and the expense of setting something like that up would just be astronomical,” said Mike Smith a fisheries biologist with South Dakota Game Gish and Parks.
The electric barrier in Okoboji cost $1-million to build.
And some South Dakota fisheries experts have questions about their barriers effectiveness.
“Juvenile fish especially, the really small fish, they tend to not really be as effected by the electricity,” said Smith.
South Dakota Game Fish and Recreation is taking action in another way. Radio spots and t-shirts, remind people to check out their website SDLeastWanted.com . The website shows people about all sorts of invasive species, not just Asian Carp.
The results may not be as immediate as the barrier in Iowa. But, with time, they feel the spread of these pesky fish could slow.
“We're trying to educate people and if everybody does their part not transporting bait and making sure they're not taking live fish away from a body of water, we can really prevent it from getting anywhere,” said Smith.
So, don't expect to see a massive fish zapper in South Dakota anytime soon. While it works to keep out carp of all kinds in Northwestern Iowa, the infrastructure and money is just not in place in South Dakota.