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Entries in Great Lakes (109)


Plastic Pollution Threatens Freshwater Too

For years we’ve heard about vast islands of plastic debris floating in the oceans.

Now we’re learning that plastic pollution is contaminating freshwaters as well--- only from a source that likely will surprise you.


What are they?

They’re abrasive particles found in all kinds of products, including toothpaste, liquid soaps, and industrial cleaners. They scrub, remove dead cells, unclog pores, and give us sparkling teeth.

But they also don’t dissolve. Instead, they wash down the drain, through water treatment systems, and into our lakes, rivers, and, eventually, oceans.

They also absorb and retain chemicals contaminants.

“Fish and other water creatures ingest them, either because they look like food or because they’re so small they just get sucked in with the plankton or whatever else is for lunch,” says the Chicago Tribune.

 “The pellets --- and the contaminants --- get passed up the food chain until they land on our plates disguised as pecan-crusted walleye.”

Thus far, researchers have found the microbeads in water samples taken from lakes Superior, Huron, and Erie. And now they’re going to check out Michigan and Ontario.

In some portions of Erie, scientists found more than 600,000 particles per square kilometer.

Not so coincidentally, Johnson & Johnson has announced that it will phase out products with microbeads.

 “At the Johnson & Johnson Family of Consumer Companies, we’ve already begun the phase out of polyethylene microbeads in our personal care products. We have stopped developing new products containing plastic microbeads, and we are currently conducting an environmental safety assessment of a promising alternative.

“This assessment is part of our ‘informed substitution’ approach, which helps ensure that the alternatives we choose are safe and environmentally sound, and that they provide consumers with a great experience. Our specific plans will be developed once this assessment is complete.”


Asian Carp Infestation Worst in Mississippi, Missouri Basins

USGS bighead carp distribution map

Asian carp have been found in fisheries from Colorado to New Jersey and from North Dakota to Florida, according to a map released recently by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Geological Survey, and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

 “Asian Carp Distribution in North America” displays the presence of bighead and silver carp at all life stages, as well as black carp and grass carp occurrences. Since three bighead carp have been collected in the western basin over the years by commercial fishermen, Lake Erie is one of the green shaded areas, which indicates the presence of at least one adult fish. (This is not the map shown above. Go to link to see more detailed map.)

Not surprisingly, the most intense infestation is in the Mississippi and Missouri River watersheds, including the Illinois River, which connects to Lake Michigan via the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal.

On the positive side, no Asian carp have been found above the canal’s electric barriers during the past two years, despite hundreds of interagency monitoring trips, including 192 hours of electrofishing and 82 miles of netting.

But on the southeast side of the Mississippi River watershed, meanwhile, Asian carp are a growing problem for the Tennessee River and especially Kentucky Lake.

"Asian Carp by the thousands are flooding Kentucky Lake, causing a problem for fishermen, regular boaters and the other fish. With no natural predators the Asian carp are single-handedly eating the entire food supply, reports WBBJ.


Threat to Fisheries From Asian Carp, Zebra Mussels Continues to Grow

Zebra mussels can hitchhike from one fishery to another on outboard engines.

More bad news regarding aquatic invasive species. So what else is new?

First, the U.S. Geological Survey says in a June 18 report that four tributary rivers of the Great Lakes have conditions conducive for successful spawning by Asian carp. They include the Milwaukee and St. Joseph Rivers on Lake Michigan and the Maumee and Sandusky Rivers on Lake Erie.

Of course, the Asian carp must enter the Great Lakes first --- if they haven’t already.

Regarding that situation, a little good news does exist: The governor of Illinois says that he is in favor of severing the manmade connection between the Lake Michigan and the Mississippi River basin.

“Ultimately, I think we have to separate the basins,” Pat Quinn said. “I really feel that is the ultimate solution.”

Until now, Illinois has sided with Chicago, Indiana, the Obama administration, and commercial navigation interests in opposing separation. Most of the other Great Lakes states want separation to protect the system’s billion-dollar fishery from Asian carp.

Additionally, separation would prevent migration of other invasive species in the future into and out of the Great Lakes.

The second piece of bad news is that a live zebra mussel has been found in Texas’ Lewisville Lake, less than a year after an established population was confirmed in Lake Ray Roberts, just a few miles to the north. Likely the mussel was brought in on a boat hull or trailer, but it could have drifted down the Elm Fork of the Trinity River.

Mussel colonies can clog water intakes, costing metropolitan areas like Dallas/Fort Worth millions of dollars in maintenance costs over time to protect water supply reservoirs.

No matter where they are fishing, anglers should conscientiously inspect their boats and trailers when leaving a lake or impoundment to be certain that they are not about to transport these shellfish and other invasives.  If voluntary compliance isn’t enough to stop the spread, access restrictions inevitably will follow.


Asian Carp Could Threaten Brackish Water Fisheries Too

Asian carp caught in Kentucky Lake. Photo by Steve McCadams

As Activist Angler has reported, the Great Lakes aren’t the only fisheries at risk because of bighead and silver carp.  The invaders threaten riverine impoundments in the Dakotas and natural lakes in Minnesota, as well as reservoirs along the Tennessee, Cumberland, and Ohio River systems.

And now it appears that brackish water fisheries, especially in Louisiana, are endangered as well, according to an article in If that’s the case, we now should worry about shrimp, oysters, crabs, redfish, trout and many other saltwater species.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Evidence of bighead and silver carp living in the salty, brackish waters of coastal Louisiana is worrisome because the fish family they belong to is typically restricted to fresh water, U.S. Geological Survey biologist Duane Chapman said.

“Asian carp appear to be the exception, which was a complete shock to us,” Chapman said. “We don’t have any real data yet on the effects of the fish on brackish water populations of other species. We don’t know what will happen, but we are very concerned.”

 Also in Louisiana, chef Philippe Parola, an angler himself, has been leading the way in encouraging fishermen to catch, keep, and eat Asian carp. Check out his website.

For a little light entertainment, check out the silver carp explosion during rowing practice on a lake off the Missouri River, near St. Louis.



Feds Say 'Pshaw!' to Asian Carp Threat

The frustration of watching a government that won’t acknowledge a threat to one of the world’s most valuable freshwater systems is perfectly captured by Chris Evans in “Trying hard not to find Asian Carp.”

Check it out at

Here’s an excerpt:

“Lt. Col. Jim Schreiner of the corps is quoted as stating: 'We are taking a prudent approach in considering the threat as real.'

“No, you're not. You're wasting millions of tax dollars and valuable time to discredit the very real and immediate threat these plankton predators pose to the Great Lakes.

“More than 30 million people depend on the Great Lakes for drinking water. The lakes float a $7.5-billion-dollar commercial fishing industry and 800,000 jobs. In Ohio alone, tourism on Lake Erie generates $11.5 billion annually and supports 117,000 jobs, according to a July 2012 survey funded in part by the state tourism office.

“These fragile liquid assets are as critical to the economy as the auto industry. Obama supported and continued the bail out of GM and Chrysler without batting an eye. But he turns a blind eye to carp encroaching on the Great Lakes. Why? Apparently, he believes it is more politically expedient to pander to his Illinois maritime cronies, who oppose the only sure solution: hydrological separation of the Mississippi River and Great Lakes basins.”