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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.

Canadian trucking company slammed with $75,000 Asian carp fine


A Canadian court has slammed a trucking company and one of its drivers with a combined $75,000 fine for trying to haul live Asian carp across the U.S.-Canadian border.

Driver Yong-Sheng Zhang is with the Edmonton, Alberta-based Alltheway Trucking Inc.

Twice in early 2012, Zhang crossed the Ambassador Bridge connecting Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, with a truckload of fish from Arkansas. The fish were packed in ice, and included two species of Asian carp.

Ontario accepts imported Asian carp – but only if the fish are dead. Canadian customs officials called in Kevin Sprague, with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, to take a closer look.

“When you (first) look at them on the truck, they’re not flopping around, jumping out of the truck,” Sprague said. “They’re very cold, so they move a lot slower. You really have to look at them.”

But Sprague said a “substantial number” of the fish, including two species of Asian carp, came right back to life after being dropped in water.

After a trial covering both incidents, an Ontario judge fined Alltheway $70,000, and Zhang $5,000.

Sprague said he’s not exactly why sure why anyone would want to haul live Asian carp, though he thinks “fresher” fish might fetch a higher price from buyers. There is a market for Asian carp as food; it’s even considered a delicacy by some.

“Or, people may just be a little bit lazy about ensuring that they’re dead,” Sprague added.

Great Lakes states and Canadian provinces have strengthened laws relating to the transport and sale of live Asian carp in recent years, as concerns grow over the carp reaching and spreading throughout the Great Lakes.

Many experts fear the invasive carp could decimate native fish populations, causing major environmental damage and putting the Lakes’ lucrative sport and commercial fisheries at risk

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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