Asian Carp Headlines
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- Cox Appeals in Asian Carp Case
- Anti-carp bill awaits president's signature
- Officials spin findings on Asian carp
- GLFC Lauds Canada's Plan to Assess Risk of Asian Carps
- Post Hearing Memo Submitted
- Don't expect Asian carp czar to leap into action
- Testimony Today in Asian Carp Suit to Show Urgent Threat to Great Lakes
- Great Lakes to Get Their Day in Court
- Thousands of Jobs Hang in the Balance as Asian Carp Found Past Barriers
|Attorneys general contend government failing in Asian carp fight|
|Written by Milwaukee Journal Sentinel|
|Thursday, 20 May 2010 11:15|
Just as another massive fish poisoning of the Chicago canal system is about to begin, Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen and colleagues from four other Great Lakes states went on the attack Wednesday, claiming the federal government is failing in the fight to keep Asian carp from invading Lake Michigan.
"The migration of Asian carp remains an immediate and dire threat to the Great Lakes," states a letter from Van Hollen and the attorneys general from Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Minnesota to the Army Corps of Engineers' Maj. Gen. John Peabody. "The (government's) response must be commensurate with the urgency and magnitude of that threat."
The attorneys general want Peabody to close two navigation locks in Chicago in an attempt to establish a physical barrier between the advancing fish and the lake, a move Illinois political leaders and federal agency workers say could have dramatic economic consequences for barge operators and the industries that depend on them.
Instead, the federal government is pursuing a plan that includes poisoning a two-mile stretch of the Little Calumet River south of downtown Chicago. That operation will begin Thursday. The goal is to reduce the number of invaders and to get a better idea of how many of the giant, ecosystem-ravaging fish are swimming in the waters just south of Lake Michigan.
The poisoning is expected to last about five days, during which time boat access in the area will be restricted. But the attorneys general don't think the federal government is doing enough to protect the Great Lakes' $7 billion fishery from the jumping fish that can grow bigger than 50 pounds.
"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 (environmental) DNA - is not enough. They need to take real action on all fronts," said Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox, who is running for governor.
Late last year, University of Notre Dame biologists announced that environmental DNA tests revealed that the fish had breached an electric barrier on the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal. Water samples showed fish DNA within a few miles of the lakeshore, and some tests even showed the presence of Asian carp DNA in Lake Michigan itself.
Still, no actual fish have been found above the electric barrier, which is about 25 miles downstream from Lake Michigan. That barrier was turned off briefly in December for maintenance, and at that time the canal water below the barrier was poisoned to clear it of any Asian carp.
The $3 million operation yielded a single Asian carp.
Still, the scientists who developed the DNA technology say a positive result is solid evidence that at least a small number of fish have made their way into a waterway. They say the tests are so sensitive that they can identify even tiny populations, which they say means it is unlikely poisoning, shocking and netting efforts will land actual carcasses.
While the U.S. Supreme Court declined to wade into the controversy earlier this spring, Wednesday's letter is a sign that the pressure for the federal government to do more has not gone away.
Beyond emergency lock closure, the attorneys general want the federal government to expedite a plan to re-establish the natural barrier between Lake Michigan and the Asian carp-infested Mississippi River basin. That barrier was destroyed with the construction of Chicago's sewage-carrying canal system over a century ago.
Earlier this month, meanwhile, a bipartisan coalition of congressional lawmakers introduced legislation that would force the locks closed. Legislation sponsors, including Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), say there is enough evidence to warrant drastic action.
While the leaders of the federal team trying to repel the carp say they take the positive DNA samples seriously, they are still not convinced many - if any - Asian carp actually breached the barrier and are now on Lake Michigan's doorstep.
They said more research is needed, and that is why they will be poisoning Chicago waters this week.
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