The new Asian carp strategy

Today (February 12) my colleagues and I will be doing a lot of talking about Asian carp, first at a news conference and then at a public meeting in the federal courthouse in Chicago. Here is a preview of what we will be saying.

The occasion? Earlier this week the feds released a new plan, called the Asian Carp Control Strategy Framework (not a strategy, but the framework of a strategy??), and they’ve asked for comments.  I’ve copied what I’m saying at the news conference and the meeting below.

Here are my talking points on the new strategy / “framework:”

The Framework certainly represents progress, but it has major gaps that undermine its effectiveness.

The positive aspects of the Framework include:

  • The Framework and the Corps have done a good job addressing one of the central risks to stopping the establishment of carp breeding populations: flooding. The plan to erect barriers between the DesPlaines River and the Chicago canals is essential.
  • Expanded eDNA monitoring and equally important, enhanced capacity to analyze eDNA samples, are improvements.
  • Most importantly, the Framework includes all the measures needed for Asian Carp control: poisoning, electrofishing, and temporary lock closures. This is the first time that closures of the O’Brien, Chicago River, and Wilmette Locks have been included as action measures in a federal plan.
  • There clearly is a sense of urgency reflected in the document.

But the Framework has some major gaps that make us question its effectiveness in protecting the Great Lakes from Asian carp:

  • There is not enough detail on how or when the short term measures will be used together to impede the movement of Asian carp. These measures have to be used in sequence at specific locations over specific time frames to be effective. That information is not in the Framework, and until we see it, we cannot tell whether the Framework will work even in the short term. The Framework now is like a list of ingredients without a recipe. Unless you combine the ingredients in the right proportions and sequence, you’ll have a disastrous meal. We can’t afford that. What we need is a true contingency plan that has triggers and timelines and combines and sequences the use of all of these measures. We need the Framework to combine the ingredients into a recipe.
  • Although the short-term actions are expensive, difficult to implement, and not 100 percent effective, the Framework proposes no long term solution – only a study of long term solutions, and a study that takes years to complete. Ecological separation of the Mississippi River and Lake Michigan is the clear long-term solution but the Framework never commits to ecological separation, it only commits that the Army Corps of Engineers will study it. Without a long-term solution, the short term measures are like a bridge to nowhere.
  • The agencies are taking too long to put this together. The agencies have had 3 months to develop contingency plans with triggers and timetables and a path to a long term solution. After all that time, what we get is this incomplete Framework, and promise of more details later. We look forward to seeing those details and securing that critical commitment. We just hope it won’t be too late.

One Response to “The new Asian carp strategy”

  1. Tom Matych Says:

    The Asian Carp plan is a $78. million dollar study, total waste of funds.
    We do not need to know what makes them tick, we need to focus on making sure they don’t tick at all. We have native predators for Asian Carp yet they are ignored, in favor of saving and increasing the Alewives. As long as the Alewives are protected, all invasive species are protected including the Asian carp.

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