Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee Announces 2012 Asian Carp Monitoring and Rapid Response Plan for Illinois Waters

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 24, 2012

CHICAGO- The Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee (ACRCC) today released its 2012 Asian Carp Monitoring and Rapid Response Plan (MRRP), outlining a revised and aggressive set of actions to track and remove Asian carp in the Upper Illinois River and the Chicago Area Waterway System (CAWS) to prevent this invasive species from establishing in the Great Lakes.

ACRCC members made the announcement at Garfield Park Lagoon on Chicago’s near west side as Fisheries biologist from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) used electrofishing gear and netting to look for possible live Asian carp. The sweep of the Garfield Park Lagoon is part of a larger effort to sample urban fishing ponds in the Chicagoland area and to remove any live Asian carp found. While these ponds and lagoons have no direct connection to Lake Michigan or the Chicago Area Waterway System, identifying and removing any sources of live Asian carp in the Chicago area remain a goal of the ACRCC.

“This year’s Monitoring and Response Plan demonstrates vigilance in finding and removing live Asian carp from Illinois waters and other areas by all possible means. From public fishing ponds to fish markets, we need to find and remove live Asian carp from these systems in order to minimize their spread,” said Illinois DNR Assistant Director John Rogner.

The 2012 MRRP details nearly $12 million of monitoring, sampling and rapid response activities to be conducted by multiple members of the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee. The plan outlines actions for the current (2012) field season focused on monitoring and removal of Asian carp in the Chicago Area Waterway System (CAWS) and upper Illinois Waterway; and on-going evaluations of the effectiveness of barriers and gears used in keeping Asian carp from establishing in the CAWS and Lake Michigan. The 2012 MRRP was developed by the Asian Carp Monitoring and Rapid Response Workgroup and has been reviewed by technical experts, Great Lakes state’s natural resource agencies, and non-governmental organizations.

“It has been an intense, but very productive, three years working on controlling Asian carp. Through it all, the collaborative nature of the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee has grown ever stronger. Our firm commitment to keeping a self-sustaining population of Asian carp out of the Great Lakes is unwavering,” said Charlie Wooley, Deputy Regional Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Midwest Region.

This year’s plan builds on prior work and includes detailed protocols for monitoring in the CAWS, the Illinois River and the Des Plaines River. It also proposes development of new approaches for capturing or repelling very small populations of Asian carp, including the strategy for rapid response in the event an Asian carp is found above the electric dispersal barrier system in the CAWS.

"This joint monitoring program provides us with important data necessary to inform barrier operations and other Asian carp efforts. Monitoring is a key component in the Army Corps of Engineers four-pronged strategy, which also includes operating the electric barriers, ensuring the effectiveness of the barrier system, and completing the Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study (GLMRIS)," said Lt. Col. James Schreiner, Deputy District Commander, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Chicago District.

The 2012 MRRP also includes an Interim Summary Report (MRRWG 2012), containing preliminary results and analysis of actions completed for each of the 18 projects described in the 2011 Plan. The Interim Report includes recommendations for modifications and enhancements to project plans based on past results and experiences which have been made in the 2012 MRRP.

While some of the actions included in the 2012 MRRP are reoccurring and ongoing projects from the 2011 plan, several new actions can be found in the new plan being released today including:

  • Surveillance of local urban fishing ponds with DC electrofishing gear, trammel/gill nets, and eDNA sampling to detect and remove any live Asian carp that may have been introduced to the ponds through contaminated shipments of stocked sport fish or individual human release.
  • Surveillance of local fish markets, wholesalers and fish import/export businesses to determine if live Asian carp are present.
  • Addition of random electrofishing and netting sites in the CAWS.
  • A revised 2012 eDNA monitoring strategy.
  • Adding hoop nets and mini-fyke nets to enhance detection capabilities for adult and juvenile Asian carp.
  • Addition of new projects to investigate how adult and juvenile Bighead and Silver Carp move within the Illinois Waterway (downriver of the electric barrier).
  • Increasing evaluation of fish movement near the barrier and throughout the Chicago Area waterway with an expanded network of acoustic telemetry receivers and more tagged Asian carp.
  • New protocols for water guns and other emerging technology such as side-scan sonar and DIDSON imaging technology.
  • Utilization of underwater video, in addition to DIDSON imaging sonar for evaluating fish behavior at the Dispersal Barrier.

The MRRP targets the Upper Illinois River and Chicago Area Waterway System, the Asian carp pathway of greatest concern. The Obama Administration also remains focused on preventing Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes through all possible pathways.

Since 2010, Federal and state partners have executed a coordinated Asian carp monitoring and sampling strategy, dedicating more than 28,000 hours to surveying the CAWS and removing Asian carp from other Illinois waters. These actions are part of a comprehensive, multi-tiered Asian Carp Control Strategy Framework first released by the Obama Administration in May 2010.

The threat from Asian carp has generated an urgent and committed government response. In addition to aggressive monitoring and sampling, the ACRCC has proactively worked to contain Asian carp in the CAWS by constructing a third electric barrier in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, constructing a 13-mile physical barrier along the Des Plaines River to prevent fish bypass during flooding and conducting research focused on control technology and methods that can be tailored and applied to control Asian carp.

The MRRP targets the Upper Illinois River and Chicago Area Waterway System, the Asian carp pathway of greatest concern. The Obama Administration also remains focused on preventing Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes through all possible pathways. The ACRCC released an “Other Pathways” study in December 2010 to identify and close off other potential aquatic pathways where Asian carp could enter the Great Lakes basin; constructed a 1,500 foot fish barrier fence at Eagle Marsh in Indiana to prevent fish from migrating from the Wabash River into the Great Lakes watershed; and continues to develop the Great Lakes Mississippi River Interbasin Study to assess threats throughout the basin, including in the CAWS.

The Obama Administration formed the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee in 2009 to ensure coordinated and comprehensive action against Asian carp. The ACRCC is led by the White House Council on Environmental Quality and includes the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation and all eight Great Lakes states, as well as the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, and the City of Chicago.

Download Interim Summary Reports (PDF)

 

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