Asian Carp

Asian CarpAsian Carp are a group of invasive fish species that threaten the health of the Great Lakes ecosystem and its fisheries. Asian Carp are found in the Chicago Sanitary Ship Canal, which links the Mississippi River Basin to the Great Lakes, as well as in other parts of the Chicago Area Waterway System. Although Asian Carp have not yet reached the Great Lakes, mayors and stakeholders around the Great Lakes Region are concerned that the carp will soon travel into the basin, where they may rapidly proliferate and harm the Great Lakes ecosystem, including the $7 billion fishing industry.

What is the Cities Initiative doing about Asian Carp?

The Cities Initiative and the Great Lakes Commission convened the Chicago Area Waterway System (CAWS) Advisory Committee in 2010, which investigates strategies to prevent Asian Carp and other Aquatic Invasive Species from entering the Great Lakes. The Cities Initiative supports full physical separation of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence and Mississippi River basins as the most effective strategy for preventing the transfer of Asian Carp and other Aquatic Invasive Species between the two basins.

The Cities Initiative membership has released resolutions on Asian Carp since 2010. Find resolutions under the “Invasive Species and Ballast Water” heading here.

Chicago Area Waterway System (CAWS) Advisory Committee


In the News

In late July, 2015, two Asian Carp were found in a Toronto pond near Lake Ontario. A federal official stated that, “there is no evidence that there is an invasion. We are dealing with just two fish.” Read more about the incident here.

On June 22, 2017, an adult live Asian carp was caught about nine miles from Lake Michigan, upstream of the electric barrier operated by the U.S. Army corps of Engineers. However, a multi-agency effort  following the discovery of the Asian carp yielded no additional fish.

On August 7, 2017, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released the Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study (GLMRIS) – Brandon Road Draft Integrated Feasibility Study and Environmental Impact Statement, evaluating the alternatives for controlling Asian carp in the Chicago Area Waterways System. In response, the Cities Initiative released the following statement:

The Great Lakes and Saint Lawrence Cities Initiative applauds the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for releasing the long-anticipated draft Brandon Road Lock and Dam Study this past Monday. The report analyzes feasible alternatives to control the movement of aquatic invasive species, namely Asian carp, from the Mississippi River Basin to the Great Lakes via the Chicago Area Waterway System. As a coalition of 131 cities from the U.S. and Canada, the Cities Initiative looks forward to working together with other stakeholders to better protect the Great Lakes from Asian carp and other invasive species. The study can be found at and is open for public comment until September 21.