Faced with the threat that Asian carp could enter the Great Lakes, Michigan is turning to the public for new ideas and plans to offer a prize to whoever comes up with a way to stop the voracious fish, reports the AP. Michigan alone has a $38 billion tourism industry, much of it focused on the outdoors, and the Great Lakes region has a $7 billion fishing industry. Asian carp have been spotted 45 miles from Lake Michigan. If the aggressive fish make it into that lake, they could make their way into the world's largest freshwater system and crowd out prize native fish and hamper recreational boating. "I think in the fight against Asian carp, there aren't really any bad ideas," said Molly Flanagan, vice president of policy for the Alliance for the Great Lakes. "We have to try a bunch of different things."
The Michigan Legislature and Gov. Rick Snyder allocated $1 million to develop the challenge. Most of the money will go toward a prize for ideas that are deemed feasible, a Department of Natural Resources rep said. The rest will be used to create the challenge, which includes working with InnoCentive, a crowdsourcing company that will host the event online. The campaign is to go live this summer. A USGS rep said one idea called a "carp cannon" shot pressurized water to scare the fish. The carp eventually adapted. Asian carp are like a vacuum cleaner, gorging on plankton that native fish need, which can unravel the natural food chain. Silver carp have the added danger of jumping out of the water at the sounds of boat engines and hitting boaters and fishermen. "They are ferocious eaters. They can get up to 60, 80, 100 pounds," says a rep for the Nature Conservancy. "They eat a huge percentage of their body mass; a big fish eating many, many pounds is going to wreak havoc at the base of the food chain." (Read more Asian carp stories.)