Wednesday, Sep 19, 2018
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Getting creative about carp


Your bright idea to keep invasive Asian carp out of the Great Lakes could be worth $1 million.

The state of Michigan has challenged scientists, inventors, and innovators of all kinds to pitch their ideas for stopping the Asian carp from reaching the lakes.

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Suggestions are being accepted for ideas for stopping the Asian carp from reaching the Great Lakes.

Denny Simmons/Evansville Courier & Press via AP Enlarge

The stakes are huge. Michigan’s $38 billion tourism industry relies heavily on lakes, and across the region, the Great Lakes fishing industry is a $7 billion enterprise.

If the carp — which have been spotted within 45 miles of Lake Michigan — make the leap from the Mississippi River watershed system into the lakes, the prolific breeders and voracious eaters will push out native species and wreck the ecosystem.

Cooperatives of local, state, federal, and Canadian government officials are working to address the threat, but so far have not been able to agree on one strategy, much less fund it adequately.

Michigan’s million-dollar bet here is that a solution may be just one contest entry away. Maybe an angler, amateur inventor, or obscure university professor has the perfect suggestion for eradicating the carp menace.

State officials have said the $1 million challenge budget will be divided between prize money and funding to test the winning idea or ideas. More than one winner may be chosen.

The challenge is a great example of rare creative government thinking. It really risks nothing, but it could yield one or more great ideas that address an expensive threat. A million dollars would be a small price to pay for a workable solution. It would even be a small price to pay for a new idea that leads to the idea that is a workable solution.

And unlike so many other strategies for addressing the Asian carp problem, it doesn’t depend on the frustrating politics of wrangling myriad other local, state, federal, and nongovernmental agencies.

Now it’s up to clever people to pitch their best ideas and win $1 million for themselves while saving millions more for Michigan, not to mention an entire ecosystem.

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