Birdshot and backlashes
All of a sudden, federal authorities have discovered that there are some rather detrimental aquatic species invading our nation’s waters. Which is something we have known for 128 years and never did much of anything about. Well, at least not anything significant.It was in 1877 that the European carp were imported live into the U.S. with considerable fanfare. The carp originally came from Asia, but became a great success in Europe. It is considered an important food and gamefish in Europe and Asia. One thing: it can live in polluted rivers which they have a lot of in other parts of the world. We have learned how to pollute our rivers, so the two go together fairly well.Within recent generations, a number of other aquatic denizens, what scientists term “invasive species,” arrived in North America. Early on, we began having trouble with the sea lamprey, an eel-like creature with impressive teeth which adapts to fresh water and came into the Great Lakes as soon as the St. Lawrence Ship Canal was in operation. The same locks and dams which made commercial shipping on the Great Lakes possible for ocean-going vessels brought the lamprey into Lake Superior. The lamprey almost eliminated lake trout.An expensive program was begun to prevent the lamprey from spawning in tributary streams, a program more or less in play for the past 50 years. Currently, the Congress is looking at a number of laws which would restrict ocean-going vessels from bringing unwanted critters to the Great Lakes in bilge water acquired in foreign ports and used as ballast in empty ships coming over here to pick up cargo. The accepted procedure has been to dump the ballast water in ports like Duluth, while picking up cargo like wheat. The ballast water contains the unwanted aquatic life detrimental to local fisheries.Like about everything else the Congress gets involved in, it is arguing about slamming the door long after the horse has left the barn. We’ve got a whole cornucopia of “invasive” species swimming around in the Great Lake and Lord knows where else, and the government is still debating about whether we should be preventing it from happening. We even have the National Aquatic Invasive Species Act which sets the year 2011 as the date when ship ballast cannot be dumped in U.S. waters. Which gives the cargo carriers six more years to add a few more unwanted species to the mix.There is technology for poisoning the ballast in ship’s bilges and the Congress is considering this. Minnesota Senator Mark Dayton is involved but this bill isn’t moving much in the Congress. Dayton is on target, but only for those targets which haven’t already arrived like zebra mussels, alewife, gobi, ruffe and spiny water flea.We also have some neat stuff being moved from state to state. Fish farmers imported a big-headed specie of carp to clean weeds out of their fish ponds. Some of the carp got away and are now thriving quite well in the Mississippi River and assorted tributaries. Facts are, we have a mess brought on by various attempts to improve nature. And it is an expensive mess So far, most of that stuff came from overseas, except the plant-destroying rusty crayfish from down south which is now in a lot of lakes in and around the BWCAW.There probably isn’t a whole lot more to worry about yet, at least up here. When the state begins listing recipes for cooking carp in the Fishing Regulation booklet, you will know we are already in big doo-doo.