New threat to the lakes reopens century-old legal battle over diversion of Great Lakes water, draws support from several states and Ontario.
Special to Circle of Blue
Video used by special permission of Primitive Entertainment.
First fisherman: It’s been within the last five or six years that it’s really become a well-known thing around here, the invasion of the Asian carp. And they originally came from the southern states and they escaped in some floods and they just migrated up the Mississippi River into the Illinois, and it’s a infestation now, actually.
Second fisherman: You don’t have to catch them; they get right in the boat with you. You don’t believe me, do you.
Third fisherman: We get hit by ‘em all the time, hit in the head and hit in the chest. They knock glasses off and knock teeth out, everything. Yeah, they’re bad.
Second fisherman: Almost knocked my beer out of my hand, my one smoker out of my hand, and just about knocked me out of the boat a couple of times. If I’d been sober, I’d have been in the water.
(“Southbound” by the Allman Brothers starts playing in the background.)
Voice off-camera: That’s the Redneck Fishing Tournament. They just run around out here and catch all the big-headed Asian carp they can catch in their boats. And I guess whoever gets the most of ‘em wins!
(Scenes of people in bass boats with fishing nets in their hands catching the fish in midair as they jump in response to the noise of the motors.)
Voice off-camera: I don’ think they’re very edible at all. And I think that’s one of the problems with the Asian carp.
Another voice off-camera: They can eat up to 40 percent of their body weight a day. Basically they destroy the food chains.
Fourth fisherman: We don’t fish mainly on the river. We fish the lakes. And so far they haven’t showed up in the lakes.
Another voice off-camera: If they make their way into the Great Lakes system, we’re screwed. I mean, they can forget about ever getting any sportfish out of there again.
(A boat passes signs reading “Notice: Leaving Electrical Shock Hazard Area” and “Danger: Electric Charge in Water. Do Not Stop, Anchor or Fish. No Mooring or Passing. Type 1 Lifejacket Must Be Worn.”)
So basically what we’re doing is we’re plugging the biggest hole.
(The camera focuses on wires running into pipes at the edge of a canal. An electrical hum can be heard.)
DC electricity is pulsed into those electrodes, creating an electrical field in the water. As a fish approaches, it starts to get an electric shock, and it turns around and swims back without crossing over the entire electrified area.
(A tugboat, the “T. E. Ragsdale,” passes on the canal.)
We had to come up with a way to stop the movement of the invasive species without interfering with the flow of water or the movement of boats in the canal. This canal is also heavily used for the movement, via barges, of goods in and out of the city of Chicago.