Carp Update

Last week we learned about the discovery of Asian carp DNA beyond the electric barrier on the Chicago Sanitary Ship Canal, as close as five miles from Lake Michigan. That’s a five-alarm emergency, but some federal agencies are not treating it that way.

The good news is that some immediate actions are planned:

  • The Illinois DNR is electroshocking the DNA hotspot areas, including the one near the O’Brien Locks, to see if there are Asian carp where the DNA says they should be. So far, none of those invasive fish have been found, but electroshocking isn’t a very extensive or reliable sampling method. Other methods are being considered for this week.
  • As previously scheduled, the Illinois DNR and the Army Corps of Engineers this week (starting Wednesday, Dec. 2) will use rotenone, a compound that is toxic to fish, to kill the fish near the electric barrier in the Chicago Sanitary Ship Canal. The fish kill will allow the Corps to do maintenance on the electric barrier. We hear that the DNR is also likely to rotenone some of the DNA hotspots. Check this site and the news reports for confirmation that’s happening.

The bad news is that the locks separating the canal system from Lake Michigan still remain open. The Corps and Coast Guard have not been willing to step up and shut down those locks, even temporarily, to reduce the chances of the Asian carp sneaking into Lake Michigan.

It’s been almost two weeks since government officials revealed the damning DNA discovery. Still, federal officials refuse to take all of the steps necessary to keep Asian carp out of Lake Michigan.

The Corps of Engineers and Coast Guard are playing a form of biological Russian Roulette with Asian carp and the proverbial gun is pointed squarely at the head of the Great Lakes $7 billion fishery. Given the magnitude of the harm that Asian carp will do to the Great Lakes, imposing that risk is simply unacceptable.


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