Thursday, May 6, 2010

Updated Asian Carp Control Strategy

May 5: The Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee  and, the official web site established to coordinate the implementation of control and management of Asian carp in the United States, has release an 82-page Updated Asian Carp Control Strategy Framework; a Three‐Month Monitoring and Sampling Plan; and related information.
    According to the updated framework, its main are to: Outline the urgent actions agencies are taking; Integrate and unify the future actions of responding agencies; Transition from a single point of defense at the electric barriers to a multi-tiered approach; Provide general direction while recognizing that agencies require flexibility to best respond; Recognize potential hurdles that might complicate Framework implementation; and Suggest an approach for stakeholders and other agencies to actively collaborate in future efforts. The latest version differs from the first draft released in February 2010 in that it contains new actions either now underway or whose efficacy will be assessed in 2010. It also includes updated milestones based on activities conducted to date, and a Responsiveness Summary addressing public comments received over the last several months.
    The Strategy indicates that since February, responding agencies have used conventional and commercial fishing techniques, including gill and trammel netting and electro shocking, to physically confirm the presence of Asian carp upstream of the electric barrier. To date, no Asian carp have been found. In addition, eDNA (environmental deoxyribonucleic acid) sampling has continued. Out of 221 samples collected and processed in 2010, two have tested positive. "Taken together, the fishing and sampling results further the belief that there are not enough Asian carp upstream of the barrier to create self-sustaining populations."

    The actions outlined in the Strategy are grouped into two categories: (1) Short-term Actions and (2) Long-term Actions. Environmental considerations, including minimizing impacts on resident aquatic life, will be integrated into the decision-making process and appropriate environmental review will occur as necessary for all proposed actions. Short-term actions include: Operations to confirm and reduce Asian carp populations upstream of the electric barriers; eDNA capacity and indicator refinement; Contract for the construction of emergency engineering measures to block passage of water and fish between (1) Des Plaines River and CSSC and (2) Illinois and Michigan (I&M) Canal and CSSC; and Begin construction of the additional planned electric barrier (Barrier IIB).
    The Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee (RCC) also announced its latest monitoring and sampling plan to guide Asian carp control efforts in the Chicago Area Waterway System CAWS). John Rogner, Assistant Director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources said, "This sampling plan will provide us with important data needed to make future decisions. Keeping Asian carp from establishing a population in Lake Michigan remains our ultimate goal and we think this new monitoring pan will help us achieve our objectives." Charlie Wooley, Deputy Regional Director of the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) said, "These new monitoring efforts will help us make the most strategic decisions for keeping Asian carp from becoming established in the Great Lakes. The new monitoring plan will provide the quantitative information necessary to determine the most successful control methods for Asian carp, if they are present in the area."
    The Chemical Industry Council of Illinois (CICI) issued a release saying that the Illinois Coast Guard announced Monday [May 3] a temporary closure on portions of the Little Calumet River south of the "economically vital" O'Brien Lock and Dam at the request of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. CICI said, "While the potential environmental threat posed by Asian Carp slipping into the Great Lakes warrants serious concern, the actual immediate economic consequences posed by a closure of the locks is a nightmare for the entire Mississippi Valley and Midwest. In this time of economic uncertainty, shutting the locks will have serious consequences for businesses throughout the region that depend on goods transported by river freight. Put bluntly, long term closure and disruption will cost jobs and force some facilities out of business. . . Hopefully this temporary closure is not a sign of thing to come."
    Access the website for links to the Updated Strategy, the three-month monitoring and sampling plan, and related information released on May 5 (click here). Access a release from CICI (click here).