Friday, February 24, 2012

2012 Asian Carp Control Strategy Framework

Feb 23: The Obama Administration announced a series of new measures to protect the Great Lakes from Asian carp, which they said builds "on the unprecedented proactive plan the Administration established in February 2010 to prevent this invasive species from developing self-sustaining populations in the Great Lakes." The 2012 Asian Carp Control Strategy Framework adds several initiatives to the comprehensive effort to combat Asian carp, including expanding eDNA sampling to additional areas in the Great Lakes region, deploying new nets and other technologies to enhance Asian carp capture rates, and developing cutting-edge biological controls and monitoring technology, among other measures.

    John Goss, Asian Carp Director at the White House Council on Environmental Quality said, "This strategy builds on the unprecedented and effective plan we are implementing to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes while we determine the best long term solution. The 2012 Strategic Framework will strengthen our defenses against Asian carp and move even more innovative carp control projects from research into implementation." Cameron Davis, Senior Advisor to the U.S. EPA Administrator said, "With Congressional and Presidential support for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, we're getting results in shielding the Great Lakes from invasive species. Investing in a healthy Great Lakes means a healthy economy." The Fish and Wildlife Service and Army Corps of Engineers also issued comments. 

    In a release, the agencies said the Obama Administration has invested more than $100 million dollars to protect the Great Lakes from Asian carp and formed an Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee (ACRCC) in 2009 to ensure a comprehensive and effective response. The Administration released the original Asian Carp Framework in February 2010 to develop and implement effective Asian carp controls and keep the invasive species from establishing a self-sustaining population in the Great Lakes while a permanent solution is developed. Updates to the Framework in 2012 include:

  • Deploying new alternate traps and nets and other technologies to enhance Asian carp capture rates.
  • Implementing eDNA sampling at Great Lakes areas of concern with particular focus on southern Lake Michigan, western Lake Erie and other potential hotspots.
  • Ensuring continued electrical barrier effectiveness through expanded use of telemetry and split beam hydro-acoustic monitoring.
  • Refining water guns to repel carp and evaluate their effectiveness at repelling juvenile and larval Asian carp.
  • Assessing the feasibility of using pheromones to capture and remove Asian carp.
  • Identifying potential compounds for inclusion in a toxicant screening program for controlling Asian carp.
  • Developing targeted control systems for Asian carp based on species-specific digestive system characteristics.
  • Expanding law enforcement surveillance and enforcement of illegal transportation of federally listed invasive species.
  • Increase Asian carp outreach and education efforts through the Great Lakes Sea Grant Network.
    Access a release from ACRCC and link to the complete 2012 strategy and a funding matrix (click here).
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IJC Seeks Comment On Great Lakes Water Quality Assessment

Feb 24: The International Joint Commission (IJC) released a draft report -- Assessment of Progress Made Towards Restoring and Maintaining Great Lakes Water Quality Since 1987 -- that is a preliminary effort to describe changes in the health of the Great Lakes over the past quarter century. The report's release is timed to provide information and opportunities for public discussion at a major public meeting to be held at Wayne State University October 12-14, 2012. The report measures some of the progress made by the U.S. and Canada in fulfilling their respective commitments to protect and restore their shared waters under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, first signed in 1972 and amended in 1987. At present, the governments of Canada and the United States are working to renew this Agreement to better meet current challenges facing the Great Lakes.

    Canadian Section Chair Joseph Comuzzi said, "Our two countries have made major investments to restore and maintain Great Lakes water quality over the decades. We need to take stock of the results as we set goals for the coming decades. Although the results are mixed, they show that there has been progress and there is a clear need to update the Agreement to better address emerging threats." U.S. Section Chair Lana Pollack said, "The Great Lakes are at the heart of our economy and quality of life. We need good up-to-date-science based information to assess how well Canada and the United States are protecting these waters. This draft report is an important step toward understanding the larger picture."

    The draft report notes that levels of many older chemicals have decreased in herring gulls, fish and sediments, especially from 1987-2000. However, results differ for some newer chemicals, such as PBDE (flame retardants) levels in fish increased considerably from 1987 to 2000. In addition, 34 non-native aquatic species were introduced into the Great Lakes, but none have become established since 2006. The burrowing mayfly and lake sturgeon have started to return, but lake trout populations have not changed measurably. Diporeia, a small shrimp-like crustacean that is a key part of the aquatic food web has almost disappeared.

    The draft report uses seven measures of biological integrity, six measures of chemical integrity, and one measure of physical integrity, to assess changes in the Great Lakes basin ecosystem. It draws on the best indicators of ecosystem trends available from government agencies and the academic research community. The Commission plans to publish a report in 2012 based on comments received and subsequent research. A workshop to discuss the draft report was held at the IJC's Biennial Meeting on Great Lakes Water Quality in Detroit on October 12, 2011. The IJC will accept written comments on the Task Force report by email or regular mail at the addresses below until March 9, 2012.

    Access an announcement and commenting information from IJC (click here). Access the complete 173-page assessment report (click here).
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