Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Submit your comments about Asian Carp

The US Army Corps of Engineers is conducting the Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study ( GLMRIS). As part of this study, the Corps will evaluate a range of options and technologies to prevent the spread of aquatic nuisance species between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River. According to the Corps, “the term ‘prevent’ includes the reduction of risk to the maximum extent possible, because it may not be technologically feasible to achieve an absolute solution.”

For the GLMRIS, the Corps will prepare an Environmental Impact Statement and, as required by law, will conduct an early and open comment process to determine the issues to be addressed by the study. This comment period is open now. You have the opportunity to comment on this study at public meetings (meeting locations and links to register as a speaker can be found at http://glmris.anl.gov/involve/pubschedule/index.cfm). Comments will also be accepted on the web ( http://glmris.anl.gov/involve/comments/index.cfm). Comments can also be mailed or submitted directly to the Corps’ office in Chicago ( http://glmris.anl.gov/involve/index.cfm). The comment period closes on March 31st, 2011.

Silver Carp were imported for phytoplankton control in 1973. By the mid 1970’s, they were being raised at federal, state, and private facilities and were stocked in several sewage lagoons. In 1980, they were discovered in the Ouachita River in Louisiana.

In the seventies, bighead carp were imported by a private aquaculturist to help improve water quality in culture ponds. They first appeared in the Ohio and Mississippi rivers in the 1980s.

Today, these two species, collectively referred to as Asian carp, have invaded the Mississippi River basin and occupy an area stretching from Louisiana to South Dakota and Ohio in the North. Today, they literally stand on the doorstep of the Great Lakes. They threaten to enter Lake Michigan through the only link between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River Basin, the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal.

Asian carp are filter feeders eating primarily plankton. Because they have been so prolific, and because the Great Lakes would provide them with a habitat that is similar to their native range, it is of paramount importance that we keep them out. Introducing such ravenous species that feed at the bottom of the food chain could have a dramatic, if not devastating, effect. Asian carp could push out native fish populations such as perch, whitefish, and walleye and become the dominant species.

We are at a key juncture in keeping Asian carp out of the Great Lakes. I encourage you to take the time to submit a comment to GLMRIS and let them know where you stand. I would also encourage you to let the GLMRIS know that prevention should be the goal rather than a "reduction of risk."

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