Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Agencies Launch Binational Asian Carp Risks Assessment

Oct 5: The Great Lakes Fishery Commission (GLFC) praised Fisheries and Oceans Minister Gail Shea for launching a major initiative to assess the risk Asian carps pose to the Great Lakes. The risk assessment will be conducted jointly between scientists in Canada and the United States and the Great Lakes Fishery Commission will facilitate the project. The risk assessment will be the first binational effort to evaluate the likelihood of Asian carps spreading throughout the Great Lakes basin and to gauge the potential effect of the species on the Great Lakes ecosystem. The assessment will involve preeminent scientists in the field, will be peer-reviewed, and should take about eighteen months to complete.
    GLFC indicated that the non-natural connection -- the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal -- links the Mississippi basin to the Great Lakes and is the primary pathway of concern for the Asian carps. An electrical barrier on the waterway prevents carp migration, but sampling -- and the capture of one live bighead carp in June, 2010 -- has raised concern that Asian carps might be on the Lake Michigan side of the barrier, though probably in small numbers. GLFC has joined other agencies in working together to support measures to monitor carp movement and prevent entry into the Great Lakes. 
    David Ullrich, GLFC U.S. Section Chair said, "The Great Lakes Fishery Commission commends Canada for launching this initiative to better understand the potential for Asian carps to spread throughout the Great Lakes ecosystem. With this risk assessment, we will have a vastly improved understanding about where Asian carps might establish a population within the basin, as well as important information about the probable impact of Asian carps on the fishery and environment, should they enter the lakes."
    Michael Hansen the commission's vice chair and professor at the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point said, "Scientists in both Canada and the United States have each conducted separate risk assessments to evaluate Asian carps and their effect on the environment. This information, to date, has been instrumental in justifying the critical importance of preventing the migration of these fish into the Great Lakes. The commission is pleased that Minister Shea has committed Canada to conducting a rigorous risk assessment that will include active participation from American scientists. The product will be the first and only basin-level, peer-reviewed consensus among top scientists about the risks of Asian carps."
    Access a release from GLFC (click here). Access more information on the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee (click here).

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