US to spend $51.5 million battling Asian carp this year

The Obama administration has announced it will spend $51.5 million this year to defend the Great Lakes from bighead and silver carp, invasive species of fish imported from Asia decades ago, the Associated Press reported. Federal officials said the fish have advanced to within 55 miles of Lake Michigan, though DNA evidence has placed them even closer, the Battle Creek (Mich.) Enquirer reported.

According to the AP:

The carp eat massive amounts of plankton — tiny plants and animals at the base of the aquatic food web. Scientists differ about how widely they would spread in the Great Lakes, but under worst-case scenarios they could severely damage the $7 billion fishing industry.

The money will be spent on increased water sampling to find out how far the fish have traveled and for testing new tactics for controlling the carp, the AP reported.

"This strategy builds on the unprecedented and effective plan we are implementing to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes while we determine the best long-term solution," John Goss, Asian carp program director for the White House Council on Environmental Quality said on Feb. 23, the AP reported.

Some of the control strategies federal officials are testing sound like they were ripped from the pages of a James Bond novel. Scientists with the US Geological Survey are investigating whether a female sex pheromone from Asian carp could lure male fish into traps or away from key areas, the Battle Creek Enquirer reported. Another device that will be tested near the O'Brien Lock in Chicago is an underwater gun that emits piercingly loud, high-energy pulses to chase the carp away, the AP reported.

With this latest budget for Asian carp defense, the federal government will have spent $156 million since 2010 to control the fish, the Battle Creek Enquirer reported.

More from GlobalPost: Asian carp detected in Mississippi River at Twin Cities

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Sign up for The Top of the World, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning.