The Michigan Department of Natural Resources wants to keep invasive Asian carp out of the Great Lakes. The state recently authorized $1 million to launch a global search for ideas to prevent the looming carp invasion.

According to the Michigan DNR, silver carp and bighead carp are within 10 miles of the three electric barriers built to prevent invasive carp from entering Lake Michigan through the Chicago Area Waterways System.

An Asian carp invasion could be devastating to Great Lakes fisheries because the carp would harm native fish by taking their food and habitat. Asian carp are prolific breeders that can reach 50-pounds. The filter-feeding invasive fish consume massive amounts of the tiny plants (phytoplankton) and animals (zooplankton) that feed native forage species, along with juvenile sport fish such as walleye and yellow perch. The specifies is a significant threat to the Great Lakes’ $7 billion fishing industry.

The DNR says preventing further movement of silver and bighead carp is the best, most cost-effective way to protect the Great Lakes ecosystem

The Michigan Invasive Carp Challenge calls for innovative thinkers to submit their ideas to tackle the carp invasion. Anyone with a creative idea on how to stop invasive carp from entering the Great Lakes can submit a proposal, with cash prizes for the top ideas. Ideas at any stage of development will be accepted, from concepts with sound rationale to projects that are already in development or testing phases.

“The scariest thing about Asian carp is how quickly they could really change the entire ecosystem of the Great Lakes if they were to invade,” said State Senator Rebekah Warren (D-Ann Arbor).

Anglers in Illinois and Indiana have recently been advocating for a $10-a-head bounty for the invasive species.

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Samuel Hill is the former associate editor for National Fisherman. He is a graduate of the University of Southern Maine where he got his start in journalism at the campus’ newspaper, the Free Press. He has also written for the Bangor Daily News, the Outline, Motherboard and other publications about technology and culture.

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