Rapid Response, November 2009
Monitoring and Response Actions for Asian Carp in the Upper Illinois River and Chicago Area Waterway System
The Asian Carp Control Strategy Framework outlines an aggressive, multi‐tiered strategy including short‐ and long‐term actions to keep Asian carp from establishing self‐sustaining populations in the Great Lakes. In May 2011, the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee (ACRCC) released the Monitoring and Rapid Response Plan (MRRP) to guide Asian carp monitoring and response efforts.
The MRRP comprehensively details monitoring, sampling and rapid response activities to be conducted by multiple members of the ACRCC. The MRRP addresses specific activities that will be undertaken to detect and remove any Asian carp found upstream of the electric dispersal barrier in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal and to suppress Asian carp in support of maintenance operations at the dispersal barrier. On-the-ground actions include:
- Cutting-edge scientific analysis of water samples for Asian carp environmental DNA as a possible early indicator of Asian carp presence in waterways.
- Intensive use of traditional fishing methods such as electro-fishing and employing commercial fishermen for netting operations.
- Sampling for larval and small fish to determine the leading edge of major Asian carp populations and reproductive success of those populations.
What triggers response actions?
Preventing Asian carp from entering Lake Michigan via the Chicago Area Waterway System (CAWS) requires constant monitoring. If a risk is detected, either through positive environmental DNA (eDNA) samples or the capture of a live silver or bighead carp in the CAWS, a response can be triggered.
Different from the day-to-day monitoring, response actions are intense fish sampling and removal efforts designed to seek out and quickly remove any immediate risk of bighead or silver carp.
What are the different levels of response actions?
Explained in-depth in the Monitoring and Response Plan, there are three levels of triggers and subsequent response actions.
The first threshold level, Level 1, includes either three consecutive eDNA sampling events with positive detections for Asian carp, or the observation of live Asian carp by a credible source. A suggested response for Level 1 may include electrofishing and commercial fishing for 2-3 days.
A Level 2 threshold would include the capture of a single live bighead or silver carp. A Level 2 response might employ additional electrofishing, commercial fishing, and additional gears (e.g., hydroacoustics, commercial seines, and trap or fyke nets). Level 2 events may last up to 10 days.
The capture of two or more Asian carp from a single sampling event-location or the credible observation of two or more Asian carp at one location would signify a Level 3 threshold. Crossing the Level 3 threshold would trigger an immediate Level 2 conventional gear response action and consideration of the use of rotenone.
The flow chart above outlines the different response levels. The chart is further explained on pp. 33-35 of the 2011 Monitoring and Response Plan.
Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee