Thursday, May 20, 2010

Asian Carp Sampling Effort Officially Underway

May 20: A release from the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee (RCC) indicates that a five-mile section of the Little Calumet River in South Chicago is now closed to all traffic for a period of four to six days as sampling efforts for Asian carp get underway. The closure is necessary for biologists to safely and effectively apply the fish toxicant Rotenone to a more than two-mile stretch of the waterway at T.J. O'Brien Lock and Dam as a part of ongoing Asian carp sampling efforts by RCC. The length and location of the application and fish removal area was chosen to maximize the opportunity to capture Asian carp by including a variety of habitats along a substantial length of river channel that has had a high frequency of positive eDNA detections. 
    The release indicates that in addition to the Rotenone action, simultaneous electrofishing and commercial netting will take place between the downstream block net and Acme Bend. Electrofishing and netting will allow for an expansion of the area sampled and a comparison of conventional methods with Rotenone sampling. The waterway will be treated in one day, and the fish recovery phase of the operation will last for four to five days. During that time, the FWS, Illinois DNR, and other participating agencies will aim to recover as many fish in the application area as possible to determine the abundance and type of fish present in the treated area.

    The release says, "Knowledge of the population size and location of possible Asian carp in CAWS is important data that will inform biologists and decision makers on selecting and prioritizing appropriate future actions to keep Asian carp from moving into Lake Michigan." The RCC includes representatives from the City of Chicago, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. EPA, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey, the Great Lakes Fishery Commission and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.

    Access a release from RCC (click here). Access further details on implementation of this new sampling and monitoring plan and the updated Asian Carp Control Strategy Framework (click here).

Attorneys General Critical Of Corps Response To Asian Carp

May 19: Attorney General Mike Cox, along with the four other Great Lakes Attorneys General who supported his U.S. Supreme Court lawsuit, sent a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers "demanding that the Agency live up to its commitments to address the looming Asian carp invasion." The Attorneys General repeated their request that the Corps take immediate and comprehensive actions to block the invasive fish from entering the Great Lakes.

    Cox said, "The Corps told the Supreme Court it had the authority, the resources and a plan to keep Asian carp from infesting the Great Lakes.  "We're still waiting. It's long past time for the Corps to show a sense of urgency on behalf of the job-makers who depend on the health of the Great Lakes. The plan to apply fish poison for the first time in nearly six months -- in just one of the areas that have tested positive for Asian carp eDNA -- is not enough. They need to take real action on all fronts."

    In the letter, Cox and the Attorneys General of Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin urge the Corps to "take more comprehensive and effective action, and to act more quickly." The letter repeats the demand that the Corps take immediate measures to block Asian carp currently in the Chicago waterway system from entering the Great Lakes, and to accelerate plans to permanently separate the waterways from Lake Michigan. The Attorneys General also criticize the lack of urgency from the Corps, highlighted by the inadequacy of the recently announced measures it is undertaking. These include starting construction of an already planned project, a barrier between the Des Plaines River and I&M Canal, that does nothing to address carp now threatening the Great Lakes, and electro-fishing, netting, and rotenone application in only some of the areas of the waterway system that have tested positive for Asian carp.

    Cox said further, "While these actions could be part of a comprehensive plan to address this emergency, they are inadequate by themselves. Their own experts have said that conventional fishing techniques, like electro-fishing are ineffective, and I simply don't understand why rotenone isn't being applied in all of the areas where carp eDNA has been found." In the Army Corps' Asian Carp Control Strategy Framework released last January, the Corps called for a new schedule to reduce the frequency of lock openings by April 30, 2010. Cox said that this plan, although inadequate, has not yet been put in place.  In fact, the revised framework released this month drastically extends the deadline for implementation by eight months, from April 30, 2010 to "End of 2010." 

    Cox and the other Attorneys General requested that the Corps and the US Fish and Wildlife Service publicly disclose documents underlying the Asian Carp Control Strategy Framework, including details of monitoring, evaluation of options and proposed actions. Cox said, "Given what is at stake here, the citizens of all of the Great Lakes States need to be able to see, in detail, what the responsible federal agencies are and are not doing, and why, to protect the Lakes from Asian carp."
    On 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 [See WIMS 5/6/10].

    Access a release from Attorney General Cox and link to the letter to the Corps and the document request letter (click here). 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).