The silver carp was 28 inches long and weighed about 8 pounds, officials with the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee told The Associated Press. It was caught by a commercial fisherman below the T.J. O'Brien Lock and Dam.
Silver carp are among four types of Asian carp threatening to invade the Great Lakes, where scientists say they could compete with native species, unravel aquatic food chains and devastate the region's $7 billion fishing industry.
The Army Corps of Engineers operates a series of electric barriers in a shipping canal 37 miles southwest of Chicago. It is intended to prevent fish from swimming between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River system, which is infested with Asian carp.
This is the second time a live Asian carp has been found beyond the barrier. A bighead carp was found in Chicago's Lake Calumet in 2010.
Members of Congress from several states in the Great Lakes region introduced bills this week that would force the Trump administration to release a study of ways to strengthen defenses against invasive fish at the Brandon Road Lock and Dam in Joliet, Illinois. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was scheduled to make public a tentative version of the plan in February, but the White House has delayed it.
House Great Lakes Task Force co-Chair Bill Huizenga said this discovery proves how vital it is to take immediate action against the invasive fish.
“The discovery of Asian Carp this close to Lake Michigan demonstrates how the window of opportunity to protect the Great Lakes is closing,” said Congressman Huizenga. “If Asian Carp are able to gain access and reproduce within the Great Lakes, the environmental and economic damage will be severe. Protecting the Great Lakes should be a national priority and a bipartisan endeavor.”
This week, Congressman Huizenga and fellow Great Lakes Task Force co-Chair Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) introduced the Stop Asian Carp Now Act.