All Hail the Asian Carp Czar

By Daniel Fromson

Proof that life sometimes imitates science fiction: Yesterday, the White House named an "Asian carp czar" to coordinate our attack on the non-native fish that are in turn attacking us. (Sometimes literally: They love flinging themselves at unsuspecting boaters. Justin Vogt's Food Channel article on the menace contains a hilarious video montage of this, while Stevie Pierson's "13 Ways to Overeat (and Defeat) the Asian Carp" documents one fun side effect—vigilante justice in the form of, you guessed it, bowhunting.) The Chicago Tribune has more on the White House's efforts to make carp a czar-ruled domain the equal of cybersecurity or drugs:

The White House has tapped a former leader of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources and the Indiana Wildlife Federation as the Asian carp czar to oversee the federal response to keeping the invasive species out of the Great Lakes.

On a conference call today with Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin and other congressional leaders, President Obama's Council on Environmental Quality announced the selection of John Goss to lead the near $80 million, multi-pronged federal attack against Asian carp.

"This is a serious challenge, a serious threat," Durbin said. "When it comes to the Asian carp threat, we are not in denial. We are not in a go-slow mode. We are in a full attack, full-speed ahead mode. We want to stop this carp from advancing."

Asian carp, which have steadily moved toward Chicago since the 1990s, present a challenge for scientists and fish biologists. The fish are aggressive eaters, consuming as much as 40 percent of their body weight a day in plankton, and frequently beat out native fish for food, threatening those populations.

They are also prolific breeders with no natural predators in the U.S. The fish were imported in the 1970s to help wastewater treatment facilities in the South keep their retention ponds clean. Mississippi River flooding allowed the fish to escape and then move into the Missouri and Illinois rivers. Some species can grow to more than 100 pounds.

Read the full story at ChicagoBreakingNews.com.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2010/09/all-hail-the-asian-carp-czar/62724/