US Army Corps of Engineers
St. Paul District Website Website

Bighead and Silver Carp, Upper Mississippi River

Published Sept. 12, 2016
Updated: April 16, 2020
Purpose

Monitor and limit the spread of invasive Asian carp species.

Location

Upper Mississippi River and tributaries.

Description

Bighead and silver carp were introduced to the Mississippi River in the 1980s after wastewater treatment ponds were overcome from flooding on the lower Mississippi River. Left uncontrolled, the invasive carp’s feeding habits starve other species and cause turbidity in the waters where they feed, detrimentally altering the habitat that supports native species. Left unchecked, there is concern that the invasive species will continue to expand further upstream into the upper Mississippi and Ohio Rivers.

Status

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is the federal lead for invasive Asian carp. The USFWS works with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers via lead coordination through the Great Lakes and Ohio River Division. The USFWS participates in the Mississippi Interstate Cooperative Resource Association’s Asian Carp Advisory Committee. In November 2015, the committee published its “Monitoring and Response Plan for Asian Carp in the Mississippi River Basin.”  The plan includes best practices, sampling, monitoring and response plans, control and removal plans, and coordination and outreach plans.

In Minnesota, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources conducts controlled fish captures in locations favored by invasive carp and publishes the results in an annual report.

The Corps’ St. Paul District is working with other federal and state agencies to increase awareness of Asian carp behaviors and likely deterrents. The St. Paul District is permitting the University of Minnesota’s Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center (UMAISRC) to conduct flow modeling and field studies on Asian Carp swimming capabilities and behaviors at Locks and Dams 1, 2, 4, 5 and 8. Strategies for limiting upriver movement of Asian carp include acoustic and bubble barriers in the lock chambers and adjusting gate operations to make it more difficult for the carp to swim through the gated portion of dams.

The St. Paul District has permitted installation of an acoustic barrier speaker system and is doing trial run to modify dam gate operations at Lock and Dam 8 based on research by UMAISRC. Further research by the UMAISRC are underway at Lock and Dams 2, 4 and 5.

Upper St. Anthony Falls lock, located in Minneapolis, Minnesota, was closed to navigation in June 2015. The lock closure provides a barrier to upstream movement of invasive Asian carp.

Authority

33 U.S.C. Section 408 to permits alterations and modification to existing Corps projects if the proposed action does not adversely impact the project purpose and is not injurious to the public.

Funding

Asian carp related activities are funded out of the Special Investigations program.