Fishing apparel brand RepYourWater and the National Wildlife Federation have announced a partnership to raise awareness of the threat that invasive Asian carp pose to the Great Lakes and their connected fisheries, as well as to mobilize anglers to support solutions to stop Asian carp from getting into the Great Lakes.
“We believe that now is a critical time to raise awareness nationally in the outdoor community about the threat of Asian Carp to the great lakes ecosystem,” said Garrison Doctor, co-founder of RepYourWater. “Every hat or sticker that we can leverage to support and educate on this issue is a step in the right direction.”
The partnership will include fishing hats and stickers specifically designed to increase awareness among anglers in the Great Lakes region about the threat of Asian carp. Additionally, sales of Great Lakes, Michigan, Ohio and Indiana-themed hunting and fishing apparel will help support the National Wildlife Federation’s work to stop Asian carp in the Great Lakes region.
“We greatly appreciate the commitment and partnership of RepYourWater to Great Lakes conservation and stopping Asian carp,” said Marc Smith, director of conservation partnerships with National Wildlife Federation. “With so much to lose if Asian carp get into the Great Lakes and their connected waters, anglers are the critical voice our elected officials need to hear in support of solutions to stop Asian carp.”
Asian carp include species of bighead, silver, grass and black carp. Originally imported into southern aquaculture facilities, they escaped during flood events and have taken over stretches of the Mississippi River watershed and connecting waters. As large, rapidly-reproducing filter feeders, Asian carp starve out native fish species – including popular sport fish. Additionally, silver carp leap out of the water when disturbed by boat motors, creating a hazard for anglers and recreational boaters alike.
The Chicago Area Waterway System artificially connects the Mississippi River watershed to the Great Lakes, where a series of electric barriers are supposed to deter the transfer of invasive species between the watersheds. In June 2017, a live silver carp was caught on the Lake Michigan side of the barriers, though, sparking renewed concerns about the effectiveness of the barriers in deterring Asian carp.
Directed by Congress to find solutions to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has proposed a plan to build an engineered channel at the Brandon Road Lock and Dam – a chokepoint on the Illinois River – utilizing a combination of technologies including an electric barrier, water jets, complex sound deterrents and a flushing lock to prevent the movement of aquatic invasive species through the lock toward Lake Michigan. The plan – which is supported by a coalition of 50 hunting, fishing and conservation organizations – is expected to be finalized in 2019.