Asian Carp scientifically known as Hypophthalmichthys nobilis is a collection of several species of large-bodied fish that majorly exist in South Asia and Europe and include black, grass, bighead and silver species. Their growth rate is relatively fast and high; they can be characterized as aggressive and the ones that easily adapt to different environmental conditions. Currently, they can be traced in the US and are said to be at the edge of invading the great lakes of the world. Therefore, this paper explores the Asian Carp, its status, socioeconomic impact and environmental role as well as assesses its suitability for aquaculture.
The Status of the Asian Carp
The population of the given fish species has greatly increased since its introduction to various countries through farming. This is because they lay hundreds of thousands of eggs at a go, and spawning can take place a number of times a year. Therefore, their populations grow and spread really fast. As a result, they out the indigenous species at risk of extinction. The Asian Carp enters new territories through other means such as jumping, and via human actions like fishing and farming, and releasing young and live fish of the given kind into the water. For example, a silver carp is able to jump over barriers like dams, and they can also easily spread everywhere through flooding.
In the beginning, the carp was introduced in the 1970s in Canada as a means of weed and parasite control in aquatic farms (Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat [CSAS], 2012). However, it has managed to invade the Mississippi River and institute breeding grounds there. The population of the fish under analysis has since increased, and the species have been found even in the tributes of the Mississippi River in the far north states of the US such as Minnesota. Currently, Asian carp needs management so that it does not hound indigenous fish species that owing to the fight for food and space.
Socio-Economic Impact of the Asian Carp
The social and economic impact of the Asian carp sometimes takes time to be seen or be evident. In particular, it has been reported that the effect of the fish species may take over seven years to be seen (CSAS, 2012). One may consider the experience of Canada to try to predict the socio-economic influence of the fish in the USA. Firstly, the presence of the Asian carp has impacted commercial fishing negatively because the other small fish species that fall prey to the carp are directly consumed by it without reaching maturity. Moreover, the species under analysis compete for food and environment that leads to the reduction in the population of local species hence poor catches of commercial fish farmers. Secondly, the operational costs have also gone up with more money spent on cleaning the lakes and fishing nets as well as repairing the nets and buying the new ones. Thirdly, the state that commercializes mainly on fish farming has experienced a decrease in the country’s gross domestic revenue due to lesser export. Local markets suffer as well because the native species caught may be of poor quality and size owing to the competition for food with the carp. In the future, this will lead to the drop in the demand for native fish species leading to decrease in commercial fish farming. Fourthly, the Asian carp has also been found to cause bodily harm and property damage. The silver carp, for instance, is known for damaging boats and doing harm to water skiers. Furthermore, they have been reported to break windshields and other lake equipment hindering investments. Boat owners have incurred huge expenses on boat repair since when the silver carp lands into the boat and leaves its blood, excrement and slime which cause major boat damages. Lastly, the carp also affects cultural and social activities of specific countries of inhabitation. For example, in Canada, over 1.5 million boats used for recreational purposes use the Great Lakes waters annually (CSAS, 2012). The damages caused by the species would negatively influence the jobs, industries and recreational activities that rely on them hence impacting greatly the tourism industry (Guocheng, 1998).
Environmental Impact of the Asian Carp
The presence of the Asian Carp in any water body causes destructive interference. It happens mainly due to the fact that they lead to the reduction of agricultural activities (Furgal & Seguin, 2006). Additionally, specific species may become extinct in areas inhabited by the carp hence one may experience the loss of knowledge about the native plant and fish kinds. Furthermore, the decline in the quantity of fish also causes reduction in the amount of the available food. It means that the rural poor who depend majorly on these native species are affected the most. In addition to this, the cultural and spiritual relationships or ties are likely to be lost too as the sites become invaded and destroyed. Competition for the local species will also arise between the local community, the government and nongovernmental organizations. Moreover, traditional fishing activities will no longer exist or difficult to get access to. The Asian carp has also interfered largely with the fish populations in lakes as well as rivers. The species under consideration lower the quality of water. It leads to the situation when important organisms that live in fresh water ecosystems such as fresh water mussel are harmed and even killed. Lastly, various parts of the body and body substances of the Asian carp such slime and blood have the potential to harm people and environment at large (Furgal & Seguin, 2006).
The Species Suitability for Aquaculture
Despite all the negative influence of the Asian carp, there is positive evidence of keeping the species. Their aquaculture is prevalent in the United States, Nepal, and Malaysia among other nations (Assembly of First Nations, n.d.). Though a fresh water fish, it is able to live in water temperatures of 5-32 degrees Celsius (CSAS, 2012). It lives in the upper surface of the water and prefers inhabiting areas with natural and abundant food. It is majorly farmed in Asia and Western Europe. It can also feed on artificial food such as left over grains making its farming easier.
The farming of the Asian carp is not complicated. During the farming process, a farmer must ensure the use of high quality seeds which are majorly found in natural waters like lakes to keep brooding stock. Critical to note is the fact that there are seeds of the species that are emanated from wild and are perpetuated into the current stock (Assembly of First Nations, n.d.). Usually, the carp is induced so as to breed. In the process, mature breeders are placed in big spawning tanks after injection of the inducing hormone, and water levels are maintained on the appropriate level throughout the period of spawning. Afterwards, the eggs are put in a hatching jar for production in large quantities. The larvae are then taken to the nursery where the fingerlings will be reared. The Asian carp is not prone to many diseases and can easily survive during the farming period (Guocheng, 1998).
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Overall, it is critical to note that the money used in farming is low which makes the whole process easier. Consequently, it is not an expensive dish and can easily be afforded even by the low class families. Countries such as China consume the Asian carp while fresh in pieces or whole fish, and as a rule, it is not very processed. The only disadvantage in its production is lack of a better market because the little carps are not so sweet. Nevertheless, it is important to note that while the Asian carp aquaculture has been in existence over a period of time, there is limited progress in their production (Hayder, 2014).
Having been introduced in filter ponds in 1970 in Arkansas, the Asian carp today constitutes up to 97 percent of the biomass in states like Mississippi and Illinois (CSAS, 2012). After the flooding that occurred in the 1980s, the species were able to escape and start reproducing in other waters (CSAS, 2012). Currently, they have been found in over forty water bodies in the US. Moreover, there have been concerns that they are likely to invade the Great Lakes from different directions. Reports indicate that once the fish is introduced in aquatic waters, they become very difficult and expensive to control and eradicate.
There are a few strategies that need to be implemented to deal with the issue of the Asian carp spread. To begin with, various state agencies from different places must ensure quality monitoring and come up with answers to some of the problems. They have to monitor and study the species in order to find amicable solutions (Hayder, 2014). Moreover, there should be technological developments that will help to stop the spread of the fish under consideration. Studies should also be done to establish area that is largely inhabited by the species inhabit and find the way of reducing reproduction. Other than these, there are other simple practices that can contribute to the settlement of the problem. They include minimizing the usage of locks which can allow the carps to swim into the waters, not releasing fish from one water body to another such as from a river to a lake, disposing properly of unwanted carp baits away from the water, cleaning the boat after fishing, etc. In addition, public campaigns have to be organized to make people aware of the negative impact of the fish. To continue, it would be prudent for governments to prevent intentional and accidental inclusion of the fish species into aquatic waters. It is necessary to highlight that controlling the expansion of farming the carp as well as reducing their population has to be done using environmental friendly measures.
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Overall, all the mentioned above strategies should be researched and announced to the public to avoid endangering the lives of humans as well as other fish species. The adverse effect of the Asian carp has to be minimized, and it can be achieved only through cooperation of the agencies concerned. Governments should formulate and implement policies that are in line with the control of the carp population. Laws that govern its fishing, introduction, sale, processing and even establishment of companies dealing with processing as well as export should be introduced. In areas where the population of the fish under analysis is high, there should be a ban to farm them for a specified number of years.
To sum up, the Asian carp is an important fish species. Its origin can be traced in South Asia; however, currently, the fish is also available in the US. It has been proved that the species has a negative socio-economic impact and adverse influence on the environment. It leads to high expenses connected with damages it causes. Moreover, they can do bodily harm regarding people. Nevertheless, the fish can be kept in a farm and bred. And, all the negative influence can be dealt with through the cooperation of various state institutions, organizations and public.
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