“They literally denude rivers of the nutrients that smaller fish eat,” Zoeller said. “And if you don’t have little fish, you don’t have bigger fish.”
Goss already knows the damage done by Asian carp, which are now present in Indiana in the Wabash, White and Ohio Rivers.
Before he was tapped by the Obama administration in 2010 to oversee the federal fight against Asian carp, he was head of the Indiana chapter of the National Wildlife Federation, and had been director of the state’s Department of Natural Resources.
Goss worked with state and federal officials to install electrified fences in the Illinois River to keep the Asian carp from spreading north into Lake Michigan. And also worked state officials on a “fish fence” that’s been installed near Fort Wayne to keep Asian carp from spreading to a marsh fed by a river that has connectors to Lake Erie.
During a visit to the Wabash River near Terre Haute last summer, Goss told the Tribune-Star newspaper that “Indiana sits right in the middle of the carp issue.” He also said the cost of getting rid of the carp is “astronomical.”
Asian carp have no natural predators, they’re prolific reproducers and the eggs they spawn in the fast-flowing waters they favor can end up 50 or 60 miles down river. And since they don’t bite on worm or insect bait, the only way to catch them is with a net.
Three years ago, Zoeller stepped into the Asian carp issue when he filed, on behalf of the State of Indiana, an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in support of Michigan’s legal efforts to force Illinois to shut down its shipping locks to keep the Asian carp out of Lake Michigan.
The high court declined to hear the case, but Zoeller and attorneys general in neighboring Great Lake states have continued to pressure the federal government to help them protect their own waterways.