Columbia River Research Laboratory
Asian Carp (Hypophthalmichthys spp.)
Carp have historically been introduced in areas beyond their native ranges as a food resource, a practice that continues today. The common carp was first introduced to the United States in 1877, and was introduced to the Pacific Northwest shortly thereafter in 1882. Although carps have been introduced and now have reproducing populations in all of the lower contiguous 48 states and Hawaii, the introduction of the genus Hypophthalmichthys has occurred in the recent past. Asian carps (e.g. bighead and silver carps) were first imported into the United States in the early 1970s and subsequently escaped during an evaluation as phytoplankton control in commercial aquaculture and sewage treatment. Populations of Asian carps in the Mississippi River Basin appear to be dramatically increasing. As filter-feeders, Asian carps compete with larval and planktivorous fish as well as clams. In addition to detrimental effects on native fish populations, these fish are also responsible for damage to persons and property. For instance, silver carp exhibit a jumping behavior in response to boat engine noises that has resulted in serious injuries to boaters, their equipment, and water-skiers. Boaters and other water enthusiasts in the Mississippi River Basin are reporting an increasing number of injuries including cuts from fins, black eyes, broken bones, back injuries, and concussions. Silver carp are also damaging boats and other equipment including radios, depth finders, fishing equipment, and antennae. If these carps were to become established in the Columbia River Basin, it is reasonable to assume that similar consequences would occur.