(Reuters) - A single live Asian carp, a species of invasive fish that has infested the Mississippi River and is seen as a threat to the Great Lakes, has been caught in a waterway beyond a barrier designed to keep them out, state officials said on Friday.
The 28-inch (71-cm), eight-pound (3.6-kg) silver carp was discovered in the Illinois Waterway on Thursday in a gill net being used by a commercial fisher, according to a joint statement by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee.
The fish was caught nine miles (14 kg) from Lake Michigan, marking the second time in eight years of monitoring that a silver or bighead Asian carp has been found behind electric barriers, the two agencies said. It was sent to Southern Illinois for additional analysis.
"It is important to note that this preliminary finding does not confirm that a reproducing population of Asian carp currently exists above the electric dispersal barriers or within the Great Lakes," the statement said.
Asian carp, which can weigh up to 100 pounds (45 kg), dominate broad sections of the Mississippi River, the lower Missouri River, the Ohio River and the Illinois River. Environmentalists fear their voracious appetites could threaten the food chain for other aquatic life.
Lawmakers have vowed to fight a proposal by President Donald Trump to de-fund a program called the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative intended to help eight states in the region recover industrial sites in harbors, block invasive species like the Asian carp and stem fertilizer run-off from farmland.
Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Sandra Maler