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White House 'Asian Carp Czar' Outlines His Strategy For Eradicating Species

As we've reported, the Asian carp, a species that was introduced in the 1970s, threatens the Great Lakes ecosystem.

Almost a month ago, the Obama administration appointed an "Asian carp czar." John Goss, who reports to an office in the White House, oversees the government-led effort to eradicate the species.

In an interview with NPR's Robert Siegel, he detailed his game plan, which includes "removal of carp from the Chicago area, strengthening the electric fish barrier system -- also on the South Side of Chicago, and a number of research projects into long-term solutions."

According to Goss, one of those "long-term solutions" may be to poison the species:

It could be years off, but it also is very possible, and I believe that it's one of the best hopes that we have, that we can isolate something that can affect carp and not be a problem for humans and not adversely affect other fish.

Scientists may experiment with toxins or genetic engineering, hoping they could alter the carp's digestive system and/or reproductive system, he said.

Acknowledging the very real risks the Asian carp poses to the commercial fishing industry and the Great Lakes, Goss sounded optimistic:

I believe that we have containment with the electric barriers. We're keeping them out of the Great Lakes with the barriers and with this aggressive fishing and monitoring on both sides of the barrier. And while we go ahead and evaluate all of the options for putting a permanent separation for invasive species moving from the lakes to the rivers, or the rivers to the lakes.

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David Gura
Based in New York, David Gura is a correspondent on NPR's business desk. His stories are broadcast on NPR's newsmagazines, All Things Considered, Morning Edition and Weekend Edition, and he regularly guest hosts 1A, a co-production of NPR and WAMU.
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