SOUTH BEND ‒ State representatives fear an invasion could affect Indiana's fishing industry. Asian carp have not invaded the Great Lakes yet, and the push is on to keep it that way. "We've got to stop it before it's too late," said Rep. Fred Upton (R) MI. 6th district. "Once it gets in, it's over." It's the same fear Department of Resource officials had two decades ago when the Zebra Mussel invaded the Great Lakes. The zebra mussel and the Asian carp are both filter feeders, which impacts the lower parts of the lake's food chain ‒ organisms like plankton. And like the mussels, if the carp invades, there would be no way to stop its impact. "Really, no controls are available," said Doug Keller with Indiana's Department of Natural Resources. "Our only effort is to stop boaters from moving the species around [different] bodies of water." While prevention methods are currently being developed, the mussels continue to spread ‒ infesting more bodies of water each year. It's one of the reasons DNR officials and Congressional leaders are making the push to not only protect the lake's ecosystem from the carp, but also its profits. "It could destroy all of the gaming fish we have in the Great Lakes," said Upton. Indiana and other neighboring states stock thousands of fish in the lake for recreation fishing each year. In 2009 alone:
- 220 thousand Chinook
- 240 thousand Coho
- 540 thousand Steelhead Trout were stocked. Officials in various departments are doing what they can, while they can. Phil Bloom with Indiana's DNR says the reason is simple. "We put time, effort and expense into our program. The last thing we would want to see is a threat from the carp or any other invasive species." "We need to lock this thing down," Upton said. "We cannot allow this carp to migrate into the Great Lakes." The Supreme Court rejected a lawsuit from Michigan to force Illinois to close its locks to stop the carp last week. The court said it could revisit the issue in the future. Next month President Obama's environmental advisers will sit down with governors from the Great Lakes region to look at ways to keep the carp out.