Proposals to solve the Asian carp problem in the Illinois River include everything from electric barriers to sound waves. However, the solution may ultimately come from basic economic demand generated by creating a robust market for carp-based products.
Michael Bruner is a planner with the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission.
“I think really just having a demand for these Asian carp, so we can get our fishermen to collect it, and then sell it to some kind of processing facility to make dog food or whatever it might be that they can use these fish for,” says Bruner.
Fishers on the Illinois River currently can receive a minor monetary incentive for catching Asian carp, but the bony fish aren’t generally eaten by people in central Illinois.
A 2017 study showed it would take about 1 point 5 million dollars a year to create an aggressive commercial fishing program on the Illinois River to reduce the Asian carp population. Costs locally could vary. The invasive species’ dominance is driving out native fish.
Michael Bruner says sediment is slowly choking the Illinois River - and the solutions to fix it are multi-faceted.
“You see that vast Peoria Lake in our front yard here, and you think that’s a really nice body of water, but most people don’t realize the average depth, excluding the navigation channel, is only three feet,” says Bruner.
Bruner says some sediment is coming from upstream, but about fifty percent is locally generated from runoff from tributaries, ravines and bluffs.
Ultimately, Bruner says controlling stormwater will help with the sediment problem. Cities can implement solutions to reduce runoff, farmers can help reduce erosion created from tilling their land, and homeowners can explore options like rain gardens.
Asican carp, erosion and stormwater control are part of the recently completed Peoria Lakes Comprehensive Conservation Plan.