Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Coalition Pushes To Restore Great Lakes Restoration Funding

Feb 2: In his FY 2011 budget, the President proposed to cut funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) from $475 million to $300 million. In their initial reaction the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes (HOW) Coalition said they were analyzing the President proposal, and indicated, "The level of funding that the President committed indicates that he understands the plight of the Great Lakes and the urgency to do something about it." However, they said, "This is not the amount of funding we had hoped for, but coupled with this year's historic investment, the President's request will continue to advance Great Lakes restoration and economic recovery."

Following their analysis, HOW has now issued a statement
on February 3, urging Congress to restore funding to last year's level of $475 million." Jeff Skelding, campaign director for the HOW Coalition said, "Although President Obama's budget makes Great Lakes restoration a priority, the proposed funding will make it difficult to keep pace with the urgent threats facing the Lakes. We're going to work with Congress and the White House to restore funding to Great Lakes programs before the problems get worse and the solutions get more costly. "Fully funding Great Lakes restoration will benefit people, businesses and communities. We have the solutions to these urgent problems. It is time to use them."

In EPA budget documents the Administration provides and explanation for the reduction in funding and says, "In 2009, the President announced a new Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, committing the Federal government to significantly advance Great Lakes protection and restoration. In FY 2011, EPA is increasing the relative funding for the Invasive Species focus area in recognition of anticipated new demands such as fighting incursion of Asian Carp. FY 2011 funding has been reduced to reflect ramp up period, allowing time for the program to absorb the initial influx of FY 2010 $475 million in resources."

In a related matter, on February 9, 2010, the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment, Chaired by Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) will be holding a hearing on "Asian Carp and the Great Lakes."

Access the original Feb. 1 release (click here). Access the Feb. 3 release (click here). Access a 102-page EPA FY11 budget-in-brief detail on the EPA budget (click here). Access further details on EPA's FY 2011 budget including the FY 2011 Congressional Justification (999-pages) and the Verification and Validation (257-pages) (click here). Access information on the Asian Carp hearing (click here).

Researchers Find Disinfection To Stop VHSV Transmission

Feb 2: A disinfection solution presently used for salmon eggs also prevents transmission of the virus that causes viral hemorrhagic septicemia virus (VHS or VHSV) -- one of the most dangerous viral diseases of fish -- in other hatchery-reared fish eggs, according to new U.S. Geological Survey-led research. VHSV has caused large fish kills in wild fish in the U.S., especially in the Great Lakes region, where thousands of fish have died from the virus over the last few years. The disease causes internal bleeding in fish, and although in the family of viruses that includes rabies, is not harmful to humans. Thus far, the virus has been found in more than 25 species of fish in Lakes Michigan, Huron, Erie, St. Clair, and Ontario, as well as the Saint Lawrence River and inland lakes in New York, Michigan and Wisconsin. On January 27, 2010, researchers from Cornell University reported that VHSV had been discovered in for the first time in fish from Lake Superior [See WIMS 1/29/10].

Mark Gaikowski, a USGS researcher who led the USGS and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service research team indicated that effective disinfection methods are critically important to natural resource agencies that collect eggs from wild fish stocks and private aquaculture because the spread of the virus to a fish hatchery "could be devastating." He said, "If VHS virus is introduced into the aquaculture industry, it could lead to trade restrictions, as well as direct economic losses from the disease."

USGS and USFWS researchers tested the effectiveness of using iodophor disinfection in walleye and northern pike eggs and found that it eliminated active virus from fertilized eggs. Iodophor disinfectant solutions contain iodine formulated for use on fish eggs. The researchers also found that although some of the disinfection treatments reduced hatch, iodophor treatment at 90 minutes after fertilization occurred did not alter egg hatch or fry development. USGS said in a release that experts fear the disease could potentially spread from the Great Lakes into new populations of native fish in the 31 states of the Mississippi River basin. Regulatory agencies in the United States and Canada have already placed restrictions on the movement of fish or fish products that could pose a risk for the spread of VHS virus to regions outside of the known geographic range.

Access a release fro USGS with links to more information on the VHSV (click here).