Asian carp may have reached Great Lakes

At least some Asian carp probably have found their way into the Great Lakes, but there's still time to stop the dreaded invaders from becoming established and unraveling food chains that support a $7 billion fishing industry and sensitive ecosystems, according to a scientific report released Thursday.
AP Wire
Apr 6, 2013

 

Written by experts who pioneered use of genetic data to search for the aggressive fish, the paper disagrees with government scientists who say many of the positive Asian carp DNA hits recorded in or near the lakes in recent years could have come from other sources, such as excrement from birds that fed on carp in distant rivers.

"The most plausible explanation is still that there are some carp out there," Christopher Jerde of the University of Notre Dame, the lead author, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. "We can be cautiously optimistic ... that we're not at the point where they'll start reproducing, spreading further and doing serious damage."

The paper summarizes findings by Jerde and other scientists from Notre Dame, The Nature Conservancy and Central Michigan University during two years of searching the Great Lakes basin for Asian carp. The fish have migrated northward in the Mississippi River and many tributaries since escaping from Deep South ponds in the 1970s. Scientists fear they will out-compete prized sport and commercial species.

Of particular concern are silver and bighead carp, which gorge on plankton — microscopic plants and animals that virtually all fish eat at some point. The carp reproduce prolifically, and the biggest can reach 100 pounds.

Between September 2009 and October 2011, Jerde and his colleagues collected more than 2,800 water samples from parts of the Great Lakes and tributary rivers. The samples were poured through microfiber filters to extract DNA, which fish shed in their excrement, scales and body slime. It's known as environmental DNA, or "eDNA."

Laboratory analysis turned up 58 positive hits for bighead or silver carp in the Chicago Area Waterway System — a network of rivers and canals linked directly to Lake Michigan — and six in western Lake Erie. Some of the Chicago DNA was found in Lake Calumet, where a live bighead carp was caught in 2010.

"I would say there's at least some evidence for Asian carp being present in southern Lake Michigan," Jerde said. "The question is how many."

More recently, sampling by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other federal agencies also yielded positive results in the Chicago waterways. But while the government team acknowledges the presence of Asian carp genetic fingerprints, it disagrees that they necessarily signal the presence of live fish.

The issue is significant because it could influence the debate over whether to seal off Lake Michigan from the Chicago waterways, a mammoth engineering task that would cost billions of dollars and take years to complete. Five states sought that step in a lawsuit dismissed by a federal judge last December. Under pressure from Congress, the Army Corps of Engineers has pledged to offer options for preventing species migrations between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River watershed later this year.

The Army Corps contends an electric barrier in a canal 37 miles from Chicago is preventing the carp from getting through, even though their DNA has turned up repeatedly on the other side. In a February report, federal agencies said the genetic material could have been transported by bird feces, fish sampling gear, barges and storm sewers.

But the Jerde team's paper, published online Thursday by the Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, argues that the likeliest explanation remains the presence of live Asian carp. It's probably no coincidence that many of the positive samples have come from Chicago's Lake Calumet and western Lake Erie, where three bigheads were snagged in 1995 and 2000, the paper says.

It says the scientists found no signs of the carp in Chicago locations where they should have been abundant, such as sewer outfalls, if the alternative explanations were accurate.

The secondary alternatives are even less plausible for Lake Erie, the paper says. The DNA that was found there was more than 100 miles from waterways infested with Asian carp. So if birds were the source, it seemingly would mean they feasted on carp, flew a long distance and excreted feces within a few hours of when the researchers collected water samples.

"You're requiring all kinds of random events to happen simultaneously," said Lindsay Chadderton of The Nature Conservancy, who contributed to the paper. "It's possible, but highly unlikely."

Kelly Baerwaldt, a fisheries biologist and Asian carp program manager for the Army Corps who supports the alternative-source theory, said the new report didn't change her mind. Fish-gobbling birds such as cormorants often range over hundreds of miles, she said. And if live carp are the only source of the DNA in Chicago, why has just one been found beyond the electric barrier? (Jerde says they're notoriously hard to catch.)

"Sure, it could be live fish and it also could be these other things, because we tested them and looked at the evidence," Baerwaldt said.

The Army Corps, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Geological Survey continue to study the issue and hope within a couple of years to refine methods of determining the likely source of a particular DNA sample, she said.

"The bottom line is there's just a lot we don't know about eDNA," she said.

Comments

retired DOC

They tried to get the waterway closed before but Obuma's government would not let it be closed because it might hurt some of Obuma's IL friends.

Lanivan

Rule #1. Don't make a comment when you know nothing about the subject.

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — The U.S. Supreme Court refused Monday to order emergency measures that might prevent Asian carp from reaching the Great Lakes, despite a warning that the exotic fish pose a "dire threat" to the region's environment and economy.

Michigan and four neighboring states wanted the Army Corps of Engineers to install nets in two Chicago-area rivers and to expedite a study of permanent steps to head off an invasion by bighead and silver carp, which have advanced up the Mississippi River and its tributaries to within 55 miles of Lake Michigan. Scientists say if the large, prolific carp spread widely in the lakes, they could starve out native species and devastate the $7 billion fishing industry.

The justices' ruling, which was issued without comment, was their fourth rejection of pleas by the states for interim steps – including closure of navigational locks in the Chicago waterways – while their lawsuit against the corps is pending in a federal district court.

The Obama administration has devoted more than $100 million to shielding the lakes from the carp and recently announced plans to spend $51.5 million this year. Plans include operating and monitoring an electric fish barrier near Chicago, stepped-up commercial fishing in the area, and field testing new strategies such as high-pressure underwater guns and pheromones that could lure carp into lethal traps.

Rule #2 Don't fool with President Obama's name when making a comment that shows you know nothing about the subject, as it makes the poster look like a no-nothing Rush Parrot.

Vladtheimp

Rule #1. Don't make a comment when you know nothing about the subject.

Who do you suppose opposed the efforts by the States to impose more means to stop the invasive species - why, your President's administration. In fact, Obama has opposed Michigan in all of its efforts to force more action against the Asian carp, through briefs and arguments by several Obama Solicitors General of the United States.

Rule#2. Don't fool with Rush when making a comment that shows you know nothing about the subject, as it makes the poster look like a no-nothing Obama zealot.

Lanivan

I see you're back with a vengeance, thank goodness. You've been a little lax with your duties of late.

Rule #3. Don't make up stuff to back up your argument. Try as I might, the only anti-Obama thing I could find was that he ignored US obligations to Canada under the Boundary Waters Treaty, and instead punted it over to the Corps of Army Engineers. The cad! I also found that the biggest complaint is that the Asian Carp problem has fallen victim to Constitutional Federalism - your bailiwick if there ever was one.

Rule #4. Don't make a centrist look like a no-nothing Obama zealot as it makes the poster look like an evolved (oops) sub-species of the Rush Parrot, who knows everything but pretends to know nothing.

Vladtheimp

Rule #1 for alleged Centrist who has never run into a liberal talking point she doesn't agree with: If you are wrong, admit it.

Michigan and the other states sued the Army Corps of Engineers (part of Obama Administration) to have Corps take additional steps to stop carp; Obama administration OPPOSED the states: The following shows stuff was not made up:

"

"They asked the Supreme Court to reverse lower court decisions rejecting requests for the installation of nets in the Little Calumet and Grand Calumet rivers while the case is being considered. They also wanted to speed a government study of other ways to keep Asian carp from reaching the Great Lakes.

The U.S. Justice Department, representing the Corps, said the states are asking the court to “second-guess” the decisions of “expert agencies that are administering the ongoing effort to combat Asian carp.”

The states “seek to take time and resources away from the agencies’ priorities and substitute their own priorities, with which the agencies disagree,” the U.S. argued.

Installing nets would increase the risk of flooding if debris in the barriers impedes water flow, the U.S. said. The Corps has already put in place systems that use electric currents in the water to keep carp out of the same waterways, the U.S. said.

The states’ request for an 18-month deadline on completion of a continuing study of the Asian carp response sets an arbitrary timetable that may not be practical, the U.S. said." Feb. 27, 2012 Bloomburg. For the Briefs and decision, see http://www.scotusblog.com/case-f...

Finding you are wrong every once in a while and admitting it is liberating, builds character, and keeps you from being caught in a net of your own making, much like the dreaded carp. (You might want to re-examine that "Centrist" label, while you're at it). To be A "Centrist" -- http://youtu.be/8gciFoEbOA8

Lanivan

Ok - I've done due diligence here, being spurred on by your lobbing of the proverbial can of whoop--- ,labeled, "you're wrong, so admit it".

Although I admit I haven't been blessed with the legal mind power you and Sarah possess, I still can not find the dots in which to connect that would make your harping about this crappy carp problem an Obama failure.

Since the SCOTUS ruled against the States, doesn't that make the point of fault moot? The Obama admin has done more for the Great Lakes than any other in decades, and clearly is committed to Great Lakes restoration. Why the need to filet the finer points to create a political chowder?

And thank you, Uncle Vlad, on the morality lesson on building character. I promise you - Scout's Honor - I will never join the "I'm always right especially when I'm wrong" coalition, of which some among us are founding members. Since the size of the boat is important, I think I will start using the label of Independent, as I understand that yacht is growing leaps and bounds as the GOP is listing and sinking fast.

Vladtheimp

Dot: retired DOC :They tried to get the waterway closed before but Obuma's government would not let it be closed..."

Dot: Don't make a comment when you know nothing about the subject.

Dot: Obama administration OPPOSED the states: The following shows stuff was not made up:

Dot: Regardless of the Supreme Court decision, the States tried to get the waterway closed, but Obuma's government would not let it be closed. Game set match.

Like Alinsky, owning the language is paramount: liberal=progressive=Centrist=Independent; sorta like pro-death=pro-abortion=pro-choice; crime against nature (true legal talk)=homosexual=gay. I can't wait for the next iteration of newspeak!

Dot:

Wingmaster

Maybe she better at playing tic tac toe!

Lanivan

Not sure about this, but I do know you boys excel at Balderdash.

Lanivan

Vlad - Why do your dots look like obtuse triangles?

Dot: Two parties with equal degrees of concern, shown through actions and words regarding the same problem, send legal counsel to the Supreme Court.

Dot: Legal counsel for the States argues for the implementation of certain methods to be done in a certain time frame.

Dot: Legal counsel for the US Corp of Army Engineers argues for the implementation of certain methods to be done in a certain time frame.

Dot: The Supreme Court rules in favor of the USCAE.

Dot: Species and sub-sets of Rush Parrots rush to blame Obama, squawking repeatedly the familiar phrase they listen to daily, indicating they either know nothing, don't want to know anything, or are too devious at twisting facts to notice the salivating fat cat named Rush circling the cage.

Dot: NOW the match is properly declared: Game set match.

Dot: Meanwhile, people of both sides who actually care are busy trying to halt the creep of carp into the Great Lakes.

Btw, not that I think for one minute you will, I would appreciate it if you would drop the condescending (coming from you) and stupid term "newspeak" when referring to my opinions, which happen to be based on a wide variety of sources, including but not limited to, news. I know people on the extreme fringes have a great need to label, belittle, and demean, but I continue to attempt to raise the standards.

Vladtheimp

Nice try: there were not equal degrees of concern - that's why Michigan had to sue Illinois and the other states had to sue the Obama Administration. If there were equal degrees of concern about the carp problem, the Obama Administration would have done as the states requested to stop the problem, and not opposed them in court. If there were equal degrees of concern, the Obama Administration would not have caused the needless waste of tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars in opposing the states. Smoke and mirrors simply won't work here,

In response to your request, strike "newspeak" and insert in lieu thereof "libspeak." There - fixed!

Lanivan

The Obama administration did not oppose the States in court. It argued for the the US Army Corp of Engineers. If the States hadn't spent taxpayer money in opposing the US Army Corp of Engineers, the Obama administration wouldn't have had to spend taxpayer money arguing for the USACOF, and the Supreme Court wouldn't have had to spend taxpayer money listening to and making a ruling on the case.

And can you say with such certitude that there was not equal degrees of concern? Privy to special scales of measurement? Important findings from Rush?

In the spirit of cooperation, graciously negotiated by you, may I respectfully request the insertion of "indiespeak"?

Vladtheimp

Oh Lanivan - spin, twist, obfuscate - you're making Maytag and Chubby Checker look like Pikers (to get away from the carp).

The Corp of Engineers IS the Obama Administration, and Obama's lawyer in chief, the Solicitor General of the U.S. opposed the States (as did his predecessor, Elena Kagan). I know there was not an equal degree of concern because the states characterized the actions they wanted taken and emergency and exigent, and Obama's lawyer said in effect "not so much."

When there is any recognition that Obama has been an unmitigated disaster for the citizenry and the republic on your part, based on objective criteria, I will gladly dub your creations as "indiespeak." For now, based on the noise and smoke I read emanating from the tailpipe, I may relent with "Indyspeak."

VA VA VA VROOM

Lanivan

It's fascinating to watch you swim upstream without a paddle, muttering "I AM a member of "I'm always right and especially when I'm wrong" School of Thought".

Since there is no way I can imagine ever submitting to your requirements for the use of the fine and perfectly descriptive word, "indiespeak" by you, I must ask that you simply refrain from using the, or any derivative of the, word "newspeak" thereof, in any future communications. I tried, but this is what happens when co-operation is fishy and not sincere. It's either this or the confiscation of the keys to the car (by me, not Obama, so don't start flip-flopping around).

SignalMaintainer

You will know when they make it here... This is what they do... http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=qfG...

SignalMaintainer

And just think of all the recreational opportunities... Skeet shooting (this could stop the issue of people shooting the houses in Holland!), and catching MANY large fish without even dipping a line in the water...

Seriously though, these fish are going to really screw up the Great Lakes and tributaries.

rainbowjoe

The day those carp start flying around Lake Michigan is the day I abandon my home state for good. I'm leaning that way now due to the tax rates and cost of living here, but Asian carp will be the proverbial last straw. I'll let the other posters skirmish over the competence of our campaigner-in-chief but, in my view, his tenure has been nothing short of disastrous.

truthhurts

Isn’t it great that the worst president in history has chosen to hurt the commerce of 8 great states in an opportunity to aid 1. Yet another fine example of his great leadership skills. And yet yahoos like the above continue to worship the ground he walks on.

bigdeal

This is so true what you have said here about Bush (W) truthdoeshurt...worst ever who brought us into 2 unpaid wars, by a fake 911, and hurt all 50 states in an opportunity to help himself & his VP to war profits.

truthhurts

TWO WARS??? you must be confused with your homie in office fake 9/11 is more like a fake birth certificate. You better go look at the deficit numbers and the number of lingering years in Iraq/Iran or idontgiveastan after the promised ‘pullout’. You then better go compare those numbers to the current economic situation and the number of loser idiots continually on government aid. Yeah you keep blaming bush. Oduma was the one two punch. You must have the black curtain pulled over your eyes or you like the handouts.

Lanivan

You are one of the most accomplished Rush Parrots to grace these pages! Squawk on, truthhurts (I bet you had a good laugh coming up with your name).

Vladtheimp

Barack Obama in 2010 spent over 20% MORE than George Bush did at the height of two wars in 2005.http://datechguyblog.com/2013/04...

truthhurts

i hope you didn't strain yourself with that one! Do you look in the mirror or only regurgitate liberal propaganda?

Lanivan

Squawk!....there it goes again...this time sounds sick, maybe has contracted the bird flu.....

truthhurts

you got me again there lanivan!!

Lanivan

I don't know about the truth, but I hope your stomach hurts from laughing....laughter is the best medicine.

rainbowjoe

Can we please get back to the fish? As much as I would hate to see them in our beloved Great Lakes, it sure would be a ball shooting at them.....

 

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