Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Groups Call For Emergency Action To Stop Asian Carp

Oct 14: Great Lakes conservation and environmental organizations are urging the Federal government to take emergency action to prevent one of the most notorious invasive species from entering the Great Lakes and wreaking havoc on the world’s largest surface fresh-water resource. As invasive Asian carp bear down on the electrical barrier operating in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal (CSSC) in Illinois, the groups are calling on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to take emergency action to stop the threat now and to look at the separation of the Mississippi River from the Great Lakes as a permanent solution.

The carp have been discovered in waterways less than 100 feet from the CSSC, and could bypass the barrier completely if a heavy rain floods the Des Plaines River and causes it to spill into the canal. Joel Brammeier, acting president and CEO of the Alliance for the Great Lakes said, “There is an urgent threat of Asian carp entering Lake Michigan if the nearby waterways flood into the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal. We are just one heavy rain away from this emergency becoming an epidemic.”In addition to the Des Plaines River, which in some places is only yards away from the CSSC, the carp could also enter another adjacent canal, the Illinois & Michigan (I&M), which is connected to the CSSC by small culverts that the carp can swim through during heavy rains.

The Asian carp are invasive fish that are harming the environment and economies of the Mississippi and threaten to do the same to the Great Lakes. The fish consume enormous amount of food that other fish rely on, allowing the carp to muscle out native species. The fish can grow to up to 3 feet long and weigh up to 100 pounds, quickly dominating a waterbody due to their size. The fish also pose a risk to people: the silver carp are easily startled and often jump out of the water when startled, making them a hazard to boaters, anglers and water-skiers.

The groups are calling on the U.S. government to: (1) Build an emergency barrier (like sandbags) between the Des Plaines and the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal to ensure the Des Plaines River and live carp cannot flood into the CSSC past the electrical barrier. (2) Install a barrier (such as a bubble/acoustic barrier) to stop the carp from migrating upstream into the Des Plaines River. (3) Fill in critical sections of the I&M Canal so that carp cannot swim into the CSSC during floods. The groups involved in the latest request are: Alliance for the Great Lakes; Great Lakes United; Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition; and Sierra Club Great Lakes Program.

Access a release with pictures and links to additional information (
click here). Access an illustration indicating the risks (click here).