Asian carp concerns in Lake Erie
The discovery of a grass carp in Lake Erie has many people concerned about the implications for tourism and the local economy.
CTV Windsor first reported the discovery of the invasive species near Point Pelee last Friday.
The Ministry of Natural Resources confirmed this week the member of the Asian carp family is fertile, which means it could be reproducing in Lake Erie.
MNR vessels were also spotted on the lake this week, in search of more grass carp, considered the least invasive carp.
Leamington Mayor John Paterson says it’s not a matter of if, but rather the Asian carp will destroy the eco-system of the Great Lakes if it arrives.
Paterson, who is a member of a Great Lakes mayors organization, says “we need to stop this eventuality before it happens.”
According to tourism officials in Chatham-Kent and Leamington, sport fishing and angling contributes tens of millions of dollars in direct and spin-off benefits to the local economy.
Commercial fishing in Wheatley is responsible for hundreds of jobs and $25-million in economic benefits, according to the Wheatley harbour authority.
Wheatley is also considered to be the fresh water fishing capital of the world.
Fritz Marentette owns Lucky Stone Bed and Breakfast on Pelee Island and sees hundreds of people a year. He admits “everyone is worried” about the discovery.
But commercial fisherman Steve Derbyshire has a less pessimistic view. He claims to be catching grass carp in these waters for decades.
Derbyshire adds fishermen have seen problems like this before and have learned to deal with it. He says “they just have to work harder.”
But Derbyshire warns the sea lamprey is the most threatening invasive species in Lake Erie.