Great Lakes Basin partnership created to block Asian carp

This silver carp was caught in a gill net by commercial fishermen on June 22, 2017, a mere nine miles from Lake Michigan. (Photo courtesy of USFWS)

SOUTH HAVEN, Mich. – Gov. Rick Snyder announced on Thursday, Feb. 1 the creation of a new Great Lakes Basin partnership in continued efforts to block Asian carp.

According to a news release Thursday by the Michigan DNR, the partnership will offer a combination of solutions to reduce the risk of invasive carp from entering the Great Lakes at the Brandon Road Lock & Dam in Joliet, Ill. Michigan, Ontario, Ohio and Wisconsin are the founding members of this partnership. Together, these jurisdictions represent more than 90 percent of Great Lakes surface area.

The Army Corps of Engineers says it could begin construction on a $275 million federally funded invasive carp barrier improvement project in 2022 at the Brandon Road Lock and Dam with the system becoming operational by 2025. The plan incorporates a suite of technologies, including an engineered approach channel that could serve as a national test model for invasive species monitoring and control, water jets to sweep out fish caught between barges, a flushing lock to eliminate fish eggs, larvae or floaters from going upstream toward the Great Lakes Basin, complex noise systems to keep fish out of the channel, and state-of-the-art electric barriers at the lock’s entrances.

According to the release, Gov. Snyder said he is directing the Michigan DNR to review potential opportunities to meet the nonfederal requirements for supporting the first five years of operating and maintenance costs with each of the eight Great Lakes states (Michigan, Wisconsin, New York, Ohio, Minnesota, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Indiana) and two Canadian provinces (Ontario and Quebec). The goal also will include identifying opportunities to secure more long-term and sustainable sources of funding for continued operation. Additionally, Michigan has worked with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago to make federal advanced funds available for the construction of this project.

In June 2017, a 28-inch-long silver carp was caught approximately 9 miles from Lake Michigan, beyond the electric barrier system meant to keep invasive carp out of the Great Lakes. An autopsy and analysis by Southern Illinois University indicated the fish spent from a few weeks to a few months in the section of river where it was caught. There was no indication of how the fish ended up beyond the electric barriers.

The discovery of a second invasive carp found beyond the barrier – a bighead carp was captured in 2010 – underscores the need for action and innovation, said Michigan DNR Deputy Director Bill O’Neill, who spoke at the news conference Thursday with Gov. Snyder.

With more than 3,000 miles of Great Lakes coastline, 11,000 inland lakes and 36,000 miles of rivers and streams, Michigan faces the greatest risk and has the most at stake if Asian carp infest the Great Lakes Basin, the release said. The second jurisdiction with the most risk, in terms of the percentage of its Great Lakes surface water area, is Ontario, Canada (36 percent), followed by Wisconsin (nearly 10 percent), New York (4.27 percent), Ohio (3.75 percent), Minnesota (2.69 percent), Illinois (1.66 percent), Pennsylvania (less than 1 percent), and Indiana (less than 1 percent). Quebec also is indirectly affected due to the Great Lakes feeding into the St. Lawrence Seaway.

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