Researchers: Physical Barrier the Optimal Way to Stop Asian Carp

By KBJR News 1

February 3, 2012 Updated Feb 3, 2012 at 9:34 AM CDT

Asian Carp made their way into our lakes and rivers when they were introduced to Southern United States fish farms in the 1960s and 70s.

"They were able to get out of the ponds that the cat fish were in and into the Mississippi river. They've been spreading North ever since," says David Ullrich, the Executive Director at the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative.

Not being native to our region, Asian Carp pose a huge risk to our region's aquatic ecology.

"In waterways where the Asian Carp get established, they basically eat away the food web that other fish and aquatic organisms depend on," says David Eder, the Executive Director of the Great Lakes Commission.

There are also serious economic implications that come with the invasion of carp, because they threaten the livelihood of local commercial fishing.

"The valuation of the fishery in the Great Lakes is in the neighborhood of seven billion dollars annually and obviously this is critically important to the economy of all the great lake states and the Canadian province of Ontario," says Ullrich.

That's why conservation groups have been trying to find a way to stop the Asian Carp from entering the great lakes.

On Tuesday, the Minnesota DNR announced a plan to raise the water level behind the Coon Rapids Dam by Minneapolis, where traces of Asian Carp DNA was found this past December.

But it's a recent study that's caught people's attention. It's findings say the best long term way to stop Asian Carp from entering Lake Michigan through the Chicago waterways is to build a physical barrier between the Mississippi River and the Great Lakes.

"We looked at three different options for installing barriers in the 130 mile Chicago waterway system, and anywhere from one to five barriers would block off the five entryways to Lake Michigan from the Illinois river system," says Eder.

The researchers say it would be a return to the natural way Lake Michigan connects with Chicago waterways.

And although they understand the hesitation to act on such a plan due to the high cost, they say it is the best way to ensure long term success in keeping our waters clean.

"We understand the tough financial times make a project of this magnitude seem daunting, but invasive species are already costing the region millions," says Ellen Alberding of the Joyce Foundation.

The Joyce Foundation says 50 million dollars is already being spent annually on Asian Carp control, management and prevention.
So in their view, a project like this is something Great Lakes area lawmakers should seriously consider.

From the early stages these researchers had leadership guidance from an executive community made up of Great Lake Mayors and Governors, including Duluth Mayor Don Ness.

To watch the interview in it's entirety href="http://www.northlandsnewscenter.com/news/local/Researchers-Physical-Barrier-Must-Be-Built-to-Stop-Asian-Carp-138476484.html
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Courtney Godfrey
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