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Asian carp have been making their way up the Mississippi River system for years after escaping from fish farms and wastewater treatment ponds in the southern U.S.They’re knocking on the door of the Great Lakes, and a number of people are concerned about what could happen if carp become established in the region.In this five-part series, we’ll take a look at what officials are trying to do to keep the fish out, what might happen if carp get in, and why some people want to turn carp into a business opportunity.

Michigan fishing and tourism industry leaders to discuss Asian carp

Michigan sport fishing and tourism leaders don't want this big, ugly fish swimming in the Great Lakes
(courtesy of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources)
Michigan sport fishing and tourism leaders don't want this big, ugly fish swimming in the Great Lakes

Michigan’s tourism and fishing industries will discuss how to form a united front against Asian carp during a conference Tuesday in Lansing.  John Goss, the Obama Administration’s "carp czar," will be the keynote speaker at the  conference.  

Asian carp present a threat to the Great Lakes’ multi-billion dollar sport fishing and tourism industries, according to Steve Yencich, president of the Tourism Industries Coalition of Michigan.  The coalition is organizing the carp summit.   

Yencich says government efforts up to now haven’t shown enough commitment to keep the carp from reaching Lake Michigan.  

“It’s kind of like saying you’re a little bit pregnant. You either do have a huge problem or you don’t.”

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says it is increasing the strength of electric barriers blocking the carp’s path to Lake Michigan. Yencich says that’s good, but he would rather see canals linking the Great Lakes to carp- infested rivers in Illinois closed.    

The fear is Asian carp will eventually breach the barriers and devastate Great Lakes native fish populations, as they have in the Mississippi River basin.    

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.