Interaction of small fish and barge traffic published in Journal Of Great Lakes Research

September 8, 2017

Contact:
Jeremiah Davis, jeremiah_davis@fws.gov, 815-423-5313

A barge traveling through the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal. Photo courtesy of USFWS.
A barge traveling through the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal. Photo courtesy of USFWS.

In 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers undertook a field study in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal near Romeoville, Illinois to determine the influence of tow transit on the efficacy of the Electric Dispersal Barrier System (EDBS) in preventing the passage of juvenile fish (total length <100 millimeters (mm)). Dual-frequency identification sonar data showed that large schools of juvenile fish (mean school size of 120 fish; n = 19) moved upstream and crossed the electric field of an array in the EDBS concurrent with downstream-bound (downbound) loaded tows in 89.5% of trials. Smaller schools of juvenile fish (mean school size of 98 fish; n = 15) moved downstream and crossed the electric field of an array in the EDBS concurrent with upstream-bound (upbound) loaded tows in 73.3% of trials. Observed fish passages through the EDBS were always opposite to the direction of tow movement, and not associated with propeller wash. These schools were not observed to breach the EDBS in the absence of a tow and showed no signs of incapacitation in the barrier during tow passage. Loaded tows transiting the EDBS create a return current of water flowing between the tow and the canal wall that typically travels opposite the direction of tow movement, and cause a decrease in the voltage gradient of the barrier of up to 88%. Return currents and decreases in voltage gradients induced by tow passage likely contributed to the observed fish passage through the EDBS. The efficacy of the EDBS in preventing the passage of small, wild fish is compromised while tows are moving across the barrier system. In particular, downbound tows moving through the EDBS create a pathway for the upstream movement of small fish, and therefore may increase the risk of transfer of invasive fishes from the Mississippi River Basin to the Great Lakes Basin.

View the full journal article: Effects of tow transit on the efficacy of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal Electric Dispersal Barrier (3.1 MB PDF)

 

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