Collectively known as Asian carp, the silver carp, large-scale silver carp, black carp, bighead carp and grass carp are invasive species of carp that are not native to the United States but have established breeding populations. Asian carp are, according to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, an immediate and potentially grave biological concern capable of causing ecological, economic and human health harm.
Asian carp were first introduced into the U.S. during the 1970s in an attempt to control algae and parasites from catfish farms and wastewater treatment ponds. Some Asian carp escaped into the wild, where their numbers soared rapidly as they were able to outcompete native species for food and space. Asian carp are spreading along the Mississippi River and, in some cases, have taken over entire streams, according to the National Park Service. Bighead and silver carp grow fast, weigh up to 100 pounds and produce as many as one million eggs. Asian carp have a tendency to leap high out of the water when startled by passing boats or personal watercraft, and several boaters have been injured by jumping fish. Due to the potential for ecological harm, it is a federal offence to transport living specimens of Asian carp across state lines.