Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee to Begin Intensive Monitoring in Lake Calumet in Response to Environmental DNA Results

July 9, 2012

Taryn Tuss-CEQ: 202-456-6998
Chris McCloud-IDNR: 217-299-7128
Lynne Whelan-USACE: 312-846-5330
Katie Steiger-Meister-USFWS: 612-713-5317

CHICAGO- The Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee’s (ACRCC) Monitoring and Rapid Response Work Group (MRRWG) today announced intensive monitoring action will begin in Lake Calumet and surrounding areas on Tuesday, July 10th, after three consecutive rounds of Environmental DNA (eDNA) sampling yielded positive results for Asian carp DNA. The ACCRC’s 2012 Monitoring and Rapid Response Plan calls for a Level 1 response to three consecutive rounds of positive eDNA results in one area. While Lake Calumet is regularly monitored for the presence of Asian carp, a level 1 response adds commercial fishing crews as well as additional electrofishing boats, larger sweeping nets, called seines, and additional sampling gear to the area during an intensive four day fishing period.

“Finding three or more consecutive sets of positive eDNA results triggers us to use significant resources to determine if any Asian carp are present,” said John Goss, Director of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. “In addition to significant commercial fishing and electrofishing crews, this response will include brand new netting technologies, and we remain vigilant throughout the region in monitoring to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes, developing cutting edge technologies, and investigating all possible sources of Asian carp DNA.”

Biologists from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources will be on the water with commercial fishermen beginning Tuesday July 10th through Friday July 13th. The crews will lay several net types throughout the Lake Calumet area, including half-mile long seine nets to sweep large portions of the area. Electrofishing boats will sample fish in shoreline areas and will be used to drive fish towards the nets. The response will deploy new net technologies including, for the first time, pound nets to isolate Lake Calumet and prevent fish movement in and out. Additionally, other new gear being developed for Asian carp detection, including deep water gill nets and six-foot hoop nets, will be deployed as part of the response action. Nets will be equipped with boat-ways to allow boat passage during this extended deployment, and commercial and private vessel traffic will be able to proceed with minimal interference from the monitoring activity.

The level 1 response actions will include:

  • Tuesday, July 10 - Pound nets will be set at entrance to Lake Calumet (see attached map for general location of nets).
  • Wednesday, July 11 - eDNA sampling in Lake Calumet; electrofishing in Lake Calumet; and commercial fishers in Lake Calumet and Little Calumet River with commercial trammel/gill/tandem trap/hoop net and commercial seining.
  • Thursday, July 12 - Electrofishing in Lake Calumet and Little Calumet River; electrofishing in Lake Calumet; commercial fishers at Lake Calumet ; commercial trammel/gill/tandem trap/hoop netting in Lake Calumet and connecting channel ; and commercial seining.
  • Friday, July 13 - Electrofishing in Little Calumet River; commercial trammel/gill/tandem trap/hoop net in Lake Calumet and Connecting Channel; commercial seining crew; and commercial fishers.

As an extra precaution, the MRRWG conducted a Level 1 rapid response in Lake Calumet on June 12 and 13, 2012, after receiving one set of positive eDNA results in the area. This response included three electrofishing and commercial netting crews and produced no bighead or silver carp. Since March 26, 2012, the ACRCC has conducted monitoring and electrofishing twice a month at these sites with no collection or observation of bighead or silver carp.

At present, eDNA evidence cannot verify whether live Asian carp are present, whether the DNA may have come from a dead fish, or whether water containing Asian carp DNA may have been transported from other sources, such as bilge water. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is leading a two-year Asian Carp eDNA Calibration Study (ECALS) with the U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to reduce the uncertainty surrounding eDNA results and investigate alternative sources and pathways for eDNA detections beyond a live fish.

Three separate eDNA samples sets were taken at Lake Calumet between May 22nd and June 25th and revealed 24 positives out of 156 samples taken. The eDNA sampling details are below. Full eDNA sampling details can be found at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers website at

  • On May 22nd the Corps collected samples from Lake Calumet with 14 positives for Silver carp, zero positives for Bighead carp out of 57 samples.
  • On June 11th the Corps collected samples from Lake Calumet with 3 positives for Silver carp, zero positives for Bighead carp out of 42 samples.
  • On June 25th the USACE collected a third round of samples from Lake Calumet. The sampling resulted in 7 positives for Silver carp, zero positives for Bighead carp out of 57 samples.

The ACRCC is following a set of protocols in the 2012 Monitoring and Rapid Response Plan (MRRP) which outline specific circumstances that would trigger one of three different response levels. The MRRP can be found on the ACRCC’s website at

The Obama Administration has invested more than $150 million to protect the Great Lakes from Asian carp, and formed an Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee (ACRCC) in 2009 to ensure a comprehensive and effective response. Ongoing efforts of the ACRCC include aggressive tracking, monitoring and removal of Asian carp; strengthening the electric dispersal barriers in the Chicago Area Waterways System to prevent Asian carp from reaching Lake Michigan; and developing new technologies to control the abundance and distribution of Asian carp.

Led by the White House Council on Environmental Quality, the ACRCC 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 Great Lakes states, as well as the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, and the City of Chicago.

For more information on the 2012 MRRP, previous actions, or to view the entire 2012 Asian Carp Control Strategy Framework, visit:

For more information on Asian carp, go to