A new film is documenting efforts to prevent invasive carp species from entering the Great Lakes.
“Against the Current 2: Keeping Invasive Carp Out of the Great Lakes” is a sequel to 2020’s “Against the Current,” which detailed work on the Brandon Road Lock and Dam project near Chicago.
Marc Smith, policy director for the National Wildlife Federation, said although the effort has been centered on Illinois and Lake Michigan, it has wide-reaching implications. He cautioned any of the Great Lakes could be vulnerable to invasive species of any kind, not just carp.
Smith described how carp could affect waterways such as Lake Erie.
“Carp would eat a lot of the forage food that a lot of the prey fish rely upon,” Smith explained. “In some instances, perch can be impacted and that not only means for the fishery. But, the fishery has multiple impacts on the economy of Lake Erie and the quality of life.”
Smith noted lawmakers in Congress have been coming together across the political divide to support the project. Congress will be funding 80% of the work at the Brandon Road Lock and Dam, while the state of Illinois is backing the project as well. He is grateful to see people taking the issue seriously and realizing how invasive species could pose a detriment to the numerous industries of the Great Lakes.
While the Brandon Road Lock and Dam project is a short-term project, it will have long-term effects on keeping invasive carp at bay. Prior to the Brandon Road project, Smith acknowledged some projects were contentious.
“A lot of the solutions and proposals to keep carp out of the Great Lakes were met with serious challenges,” Smith recounted. “Not only just financial, but how much it would cost to, essentially, fill in and block the transfer of water so that you would stop carp from getting into Lake Michigan through the Chicago Sanitary and Wastewater Canal.”
Given how many states border the Great Lakes, Smith knows invasive carp could pose a serious risk to the environments of the surrounding states as well as neighboring Canada. As technologies for keeping invasive species out of the Great Lakes have developed through time, Smith emphasized education must continue, so people understand why the Great Lakes are the wrong ecosystem for invasive carp.
Edwin is a reporter and producer in North Tonawanda, New York. He’s previously reported for the Niagara Gazette and the Ithaca Times. Edwin got an early start in radio interning for WBFO-88.7FM, NPR’s Buffalo affiliate. In 2018, he graduated from SUNY Buffalo State College with a B.A. in Journalism, and in 2022, graduated from Syracuse University with an M.S. in Communications.