Obama calls for more monitoring of Asian carp migration

The following is the text of a press release issued by the White House Council on Environmental Quality:
(WASHINGTON) — The Obama Administration today announced a series of new measures to protect the Great Lakes from Asian carp, building on the unprecedented proactive plan to prevent this invasive species from developing self-sustaining populations in the Great Lakes that the Administration established in February 2010.
The 2011 Asian Carp Control Strategy Framework adds 13 new initiatives to the comprehensive effort to combat Asian carp, including expanding eDNA testing capacity and developing cutting-edge biological controls and monitoring technology, among other measures.

The original Framework, created in February 2010 and updated in May, established the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee (ACRCC), consisting of state and municipal agencies, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Geological Survey, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Coast Guard to synchronize the response to Asian carp.

“The Obama Administration has taken an aggressive, unprecedented approach to protect our Great Lakes and the communities and economies that depend on them from the threat of Asian carp,” said John Goss, Asian Carp Director for the White House Council on Environmental Quality. “This Framework builds on the successes we accomplished in 2010 by leveraging our cross-government, regional coordination on immediate preventative actions and multi-tiered strategies for the longer term.”

“Thanks to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative established by President Obama and strongly supported by Congress, we can take important steps to protect these vital waters,” said Cameron Davis, Senior Advisor to the Administrator (Great Lakes), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency . “We are working to maintain this ecosystem, which represents the nation’s largest source of fresh surface water and is the cornerstone of local jobs and the regional economy.”

“The Army Corps of Engineers continues its commitment to protect the Great Lakes from Asian carp. Our achievements in 2010 demonstrate the success of this integrated framework, of working together to keep the carp out of this treasured ecosystem. Our success further motivates us to accomplish new initiatives in 2011,” said Jo-Ellen Darcy, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works.

“From a biological standpoint we face a great challenge protecting the Great Lakes ecosystems and fisheries from invasion by the Asian carp,” said Tom Strickland, Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks at the Department of the Interior.”The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Geological Survey are working on the ground as part of an Administration-wide intensive comprehensive strategy to stop the spread of Asian carp. This effort is unprecedented and is a major priority for the Department of the Interior.”

The original Asian Carp Control Strategy Framework included 32 Federally-funded initiatives, all of which have been completed or are underway. The 2011 Asian Carp Control Strategy Framework now includes 45 short- and long-term initiatives in an aggressive, multi-tiered strategy to combat Asian carp.

Key accomplishments in 2010 in response to the Asian Carp threat include:

Enhanced the fish barrier system to include strengthened electric barriers, physical barricades to stop carp migration during floods, and closed off smaller waterway connections to the Great Lakes.

Constructed a third electric fish barrier in the Chicago Waterway for extra protection in the primary path of concern for carp migration into Lake Michigan.
Established Asiancarp.org to provide up-to-date information about Asian Carp efforts.
Utilized emergency authority provided through Section 126 of Energy and Water Development Act of 2010 to block flood waters from the Des Plaines River with a 13-mile fish barrier and a permanent block in the Illinois and Michigan Canal to keep Asian carp from crossing into the Chicago Waterway.
Installed a 1,500 foot fish barrier fence at Eagle Marsh, near Fort Wayne, IN, once considered an alternate pathway of greatest concern, to block advancement of Asian carp from the Wabash to the Maumee and Lake Erie.
Identified 18 other potential pathways at risk across all the Great Lakes states for the potential transfer of aquatic invasive species between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River Basins.
Began implementing the Asian Carp Prevention and Control Act following the President’s signing of the bill on December 14, 2010. This legislation prohibits live bighead carp from being shipped or imported into the United States.
Coordinated Federal agencies to deploy larger field crews to conduct electro shock and netting operations, and increased eDNA testing capacity to 220 samples a week.
Increased collaboration across all levels of government by integrating the Great Lakes states into the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee and our Asian Carp Control Strategy Framework actions.
New projects in the 2011 Framework include:
Validation of eDNA as an effective tool for monitoring and tracking Asian Carp through analysis and refinement of the eDNA processes to determine the number and distribution of positive detections of Asian carp.
Development of eDNA genetic markers to more accurately and efficiently detect Asian carp concentrations. Expansion the USFWS lab in LaCrosse, WI to increase capacity of eDNA testing in all of the Great Lakes.
Development of alternate trap and net designs for Asian carp.
Development of rapid genetic-based methods to detect Asian carp to allow for faster results than eDNA.
Evaluation of the affect of removing Asian carp food sources by reducing phosphorus and nitrogen from waste water treatment plant discharges into the CAWS/Upper Illinois Watershed.
Assessment of the impact of steel hulled barges on the electric barriers.
Evaluation of a permanent separation between the Wabash-Maumee watersheds.
Key ongoing projects include:
Continuation of the Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study (GLMRIS), including study of aquatic nuisance species controls and hydrologic separation of the basins.
Development of permanent blockages for aquatic invasive species pathways throughout the Great Lakes states.
Evaluation of electric barrier effectiveness through fish tagging and by utilizing Didson cameras.
Deployment of an enhanced, more efficient system to monitor, sample and capture Asian carp.
Enforcement of carp inspections at bait shops, fish processors, fish markets and retail food establishments.
Enabling American commercial fisherman to develop markets for Asian carp, reducing Asian carp population in the Illinois River and creating jobs.
Public engagement through outreach and enforcement.
Collaboration with stakeholders groups, commercial fishermen, industry and recreational boaters to mitigate the damage Asian carp inflict upon waterway users.
Investment of Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funds in research and development of long term fish management strategies for Asian carp, eDNA sampling, and habitability assessments.
Improvement of hydro gun techniques to herd or eradicate and test as a barrier when locks are opened.
Development of biological interference to reduce Asian carp breeding.
Establishment and continual updating of www.asiancarp.org as a comprehensive source for information about Asian carp activities.
For more information or to read the 2011 Asian Carp Control Strategy Framework, visit: www.asiancarp.org.
By Professional Mariner Staff