Monday, April 12, 2010

Resolution Calls For Basins' Separation To Control Asian Carp

Apr 8: The bi‐national committee of advisors of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission (GLFC) called upon the U.S. government to seek immediately ecological separation of the Great Lakes and Mississippi basins, acknowledging the imminent threat of the "voracious Asian carp." The action -- which came in the form of a rare binational resolution, approved during the advisors meetings in Windsor, Ontario -- calls on Congress, the administration, and the states to act immediately to achieve ecological separation of the two basins to prevent further aquatic species invasions.
    According to a release, "While efforts are being undertaken to stop the Asian carp, such as the operation of electric barriers, rotenone treatments, eDNA and traditional sampling, there is a growing support for the ecological separation of the Mississippi and Great Lakes waters. Ecological separation would ensure that no live organisms could move between the two basins, a protection that the natural watershed divide provided.
    U.S. committee chair Denny Grinold from the Michigan Charter Boat Association said, "We simply cannot tolerate even one more invasion. An Asian carp invasion is preventable, but the federal government must commit to the solution of separating Mississippi waters from the Great Lakes. Otherwise, it is stakeholders like us, and the next generation, that will bear the steep economic and ecological costs."
    The Committee of Advisors consists of both U.S. and Canadian members representing recreational and commercial fishing, Aboriginal communities, public‐at-large, academia, and state agencies -- also expressed deep concern about the continued influx of aquatic invasive species into the Great Lakes and disappointment over the Canadian and U.S. Governments' inaction to remedy this serious problem. The U.S. Committee of Advisors was created under the Great Lakes Fisheries Act of 1956 and is constituted to provide citizens with the opportunity to be heard on issues of importance to the health and sustainability of the Great Lakes fishery and to make recommendations pertinent to the commission's duties.
    Access a release from the GLFC (click here). Access the resolution (click here).

IL Chamber Study Says Lock Closure Would Cost $4.7 Billion

Apr 7: The Illinois Chamber of Commerce released an economic impact analysis reporting that the economic value lost from permanent closure of the Chicago and O'Brien locks would be $582 million the first year, $531 million annually over the subsequent 7 years and would result in a net loss of $4.7 billion over a 20-year planning horizon. The report, conducted by DePaul University economist Dr. Joseph Schwieterman, stands in stark contrast to Michigan's "Taylor and Roach" report [See WIMS 2/4/10], which the Chamber said "attempted to trivialize the impact of lock closure on the Chicago economy, purporting that losses would fall within the range of $64 million to $69 million annually." The Chamber said that where the '"Taylor and Roach" report focused on a very narrow scope of impact, the Schwieterman report accounts for the impact lock closure would have across multiple industries locally and regionally, thereby providing a more well-rounded and accurate assessment of the total effect on the region's economic well-being.

    Jim Farrell, executive director of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce's Infrastructure Council said, "It is the Chamber's hope that this study will bring some well-reasoned perspective to a debate that has been fueled by rhetoric from the state of Michigan. The Schwieterman study shows, through well-reasoned economics, that closing these locks will have a devastating affect on our local economy, resulting in the loss of potentially hundreds of area jobs and hurting a range of industries and services."

    The economic debate on closing of the Chicago and O'Brien locks has recently been reliant on Michigan's 'Taylor and Roach' study, which has since been peer reviewed and proven unscientific and inaccurate.  The Illinois Chamber of Commerce released three independent critiques of the "Taylor and Roach" report last week. Farrell said, "Beyond the economics, we question the science as well. The eDNA test cited in claims that Asian Carp are above the electric barrier was only recently developed within the past year, and has not had the benefit of peer review to determine its reliability or accuracy. Essentially, the Asian Carp debate has been fueled by an unscientific economic analysis and an experimental, eDNA test. This hardly seems like sufficient evidence to bring the most environmentally friendly mode of transportation and a billion-dollar industry to a halt."

    The Chamber indicated that two weeks of recent targeted fishing in areas above the electronic barrier yielded zero Asian Carp, calling into question the original eDNA testing mechanism used to detect the Carp's existence. According to Farrell, "The Illinois Department of Natural Resources used a very sound scientific approach which yielded Asian Carp some 50 miles from Lake Michigan, but none where eDNA had indicated in the Chicago Area Waterways." The Schwieterman report concludes that the closure of the locks would result in "enormous financial losses" resulting from added transportation costs and losses to commercial shipping, recreational boating, commercial cruises and tours, and public protection.

    Access a release from the IL Chamber of Commerce with further details (click here). Access the complete Schwieterman report (click here). Access a release from Michigan Attorney General on the Michigan study (click here). Access the Michigan study submitted as part of the Attorney Generals filings (click here, see appendix).