The Free Press, Mankato, MN


September 17, 2013

More focus needed for keeping Asian carp away

Why it matters: Stopping Asian carp at the St. Anthony lock is good, but don't forget about protecting the Minnesota River.

Any hopes that invasive and voracious Asian carp have stayed out of Minnesota waters were dashed recently when the carcass of a more than 2-foot-long Asian carp was found atop a concrete dam on the Mississippi River near Winona.

The silver carp is the species of large carp people have seen on YouTube videos flying through the air by the hundreds when spooked by boats traveling on the rivers elsewhere in the country.

The discovery has accelerated pressure by Minnesota congressional members, including Tim Walz of Mankato, to have Congress order the closing of the Upper St. Anthony lock in downtown Minneapolis. Shutting down that lock would be the best — although not foolproof — way of blocking the carp from moving up the Mississippi and getting into other streams and lakes across northern Minnesota.

But the plan would do nothing to protect the state’s namesake river from being infested with the carp that not only pose risks of injury to boaters but can devastate other game fish habitat because of their voracious appetites. The mouth of the Minnesota River enters the Mississippi miles to the south of the St. Anothony lock, leaving the Minnesota River wide open to Asian carp that are making their way north.

While the carp carcass found in Winona is farther south of where the Minnesota enters the Mississippi, the discovery confirms the big fish are nearing, if not already in the Minnesota River.

Protecting the Minnesota River has, unfortunately, been all but ignored by state and national groups fighting to stop or at least slow the migration of Asian carp.

Attention on the St. Anthony lock is understandable. It’s a relatively easy spot to seal off the river and state residents are justly proud of the majestic Mississippi River and want to protect it from further damage by the carp. The fact the lock is in the midst of the Twin Cities also gives the effort much more political clout.

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