MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) - Ask angler Jason McPherson about invasive species and he'll giveyou a quick answer.
But it won't be about Asian carp.
"Nothing eats them, they don't taste good and they'reeverywhere," McPherson said. He's talking about gobies. TheMuskegon fisherman said he has caught more of them in the past weekthan he's caught edible fish.
The invasive fish -- which, McPherson adds, are always stealinghis bait -- never really got the attention Asian carp havereceived.
"Honestly, one, because [the carp are] big. People can see it,"said Alan Steinman, the director of Grand Valley State University'sAnnis Water Resources Institute. "And two, it jumps. So, it's gotcharisma in that sense.
"Unfortunately, in the meantime -- not to minimize the potentialdamage that the Asian carp might do in the Great Lakes -- we dohave species like the quagga and zebra mussels, which are having atrue ecological impact right now."
Those mussels have been in the Great Lakes for about 20 years.Beyond the clogged water pipes that caught some initial attention,Steinman said mussels are at least partly to blame for smallersalmon in Lake Michigan.
"When we talk to the old anglers, they talk about 30, 40 poundsalmon," he said. "That was a regular event to catch those andthat's very rare now."
The problem, Steinman said, is that the invasive mussels takeenergy out of the food left for the top predators in the lake toeat.
The gobies McPherson keeps catching can do the same thing, byforcing predators such as perch and walleye to spend more time --and energy -- looking for food.
It's like the difference between eating grass and eating asteak, Steinman said.
But, he said, we still do not know the full extent of the impactof invasive species such as the mussels.
"The trends are there and there should be a great deal ofconcern," Steinman said. "And I think there is, on the part offishery managers. But right now, we're seeing a lot of politicaltheater and more about the Asian carp than we are about ourexisting invasive species problems."
Hype, he said, isn't all bad. It can prompt action.
One example: a federal lawsuit filed Monday by Michigan and fourother states. It seeks to close locks in Chicago in an attempt todisconnect the Great Lakes from the Mississippi River system, whereAsian carp already live.
Closing that artificial connection makes sense, Steinmansaid.
"But people are raising these concerns of 'carpageddon' and it'sbased strictly on emotion and political theater. I'm not sayingthey're couldn't be a problem, but ... we simply don't have enoughscience to say whether it will or will not," he said. "And I'malways cautious about crying wolf."
Or, as McPherson puts it, "we won't know until it happens."
A candlelight vigil was held Wednesday night for an innocent bystander who was shot and killed in October.
Police are investigating a report of a home invasion, but say there are inconsistencies.
Police say they haven't been able to find out which student was responsible after a Muskegon kindergartner was choked with his own scarf on the playground.