Wednesday, June 30 , 2010
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
From Page 2
Bighead and Silver Asian carp eat
plankton, a primary food source for
indigenous fish in the Mississippi and
Illinois Rivers, and easily out-compete
those native species.
The ACRCC reported that commer-
cial catch of Bighead Asian carp in the
Mississippi River shot from 5.5 tons
to 55 tons between 1994 and 1997, and
today fishermen catch up to 25,000
pounds of Bighead and Silver Asian
carp in the Illinois River on a daily
basis. The report added that the com-
mercial value of the carp is much lower
than that of the fish they out-compete,
posing severe consequences for the $7
billion commercial, tribal and sport
fishing industries in the Great Lakes.
The ACRCC also warned that Silver
Asian carp, which can grow to over 20
pounds, are a direct threat to people
because they are easily startled by boat
motors and when around one, leap as
high as ten feet out of the water. Boat-
ers and jet skiers in Asian carp-inhab-
ited waters are regularly hit by flying
fish, according the ACRCC.
Joel Brammeier, president and CEO
of Alliance for the Great Lakes - a
group that fights for thepreservationof
the Great Lakes through public policy,
*education and local efforts - said the
only way to avoid an Asian carp inva-
sion is to construct a physical barrier,
known as "hydrological separation."
"It's disturbing to find a live fish, but
the reality is the same," he said. "We
need to separate the Great Lakes from
the Mississippi River. The only solu-
tion that's going to eliminate the con-
cern of invasions of the Great Lakes by
Asian carp or other species is separat-
ing these two water systems."
According to Brammeier, the United
States Army Corps of Engineers has
orders to look into construction of a
permanent barrier, but it hasn't acted
swiftly enough and needs to "get on
the ball and finish the work that it's
been charged to do."
Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) issued
a press release last Friday announcing
that he and Senator Debbie Stabenow
(D-Mich.) will introduce legislation
this week that will require the USACE
to speed up investigation into hydro-
Senator Stabenow, who has sought
to keep Asian Carp out of the Great
Lakes for years, took to the Senate floor
last weekto urgethe U.S. Army Corp of
Engineers to close the locks connect-
ing the Illinois River to Lake Michigan
until a more permanent solution like
hydrological separation is put in place.
"This isn't just the economy, it's not
just boating, it's not just fishing, it real-
ly is our way of life in the Great Lakes,
and despite efforts that have gone
on for years to stop the fish, it hasn't
happened, and now we have to take
very decisive action to close the locks
immediately so that we can determine
how best long-term to solve this prob-
lem," Stabenow said at the time.
"Asian carp could completely
unwind the food chain with devastat-
ing effects for our existing fish popu-
lations," Stabenow said, which, she
added, would put the $16 billion recre-
ational boating industry and $7 billion
dollar fishing industry at risk.
Mark Denzler, vice president and
chief operating officer of the Illinois
Manufacturers Association, voiced
strong opposition to the proposal to
close the locks, saying cutting off the
waterway would have severe conse-
"Closing offthe Great Lakes fromthe
Chicago waterways would be economi-
cally devastating," he said. "It would
create an economic ripple, not only in
Chicago, but also in the Midwest."
The IMA is a member of Un-Lock
Our Jobs, a coalition that fights for
keeping Asian carp out of the Great
Lakes without closingthe locks.
Denzler said the waterway is essen-
tial for transportation of resources like
grain, coal, petroleum and road salt,
and closing the waterway would cost
tens of thousands of jobs.
According to the Un-Lock Our Jobs
website, $29 billion worth of materials
pass through the waterway each year,
and a DePaul University study estimat-
ed that closing the locks would cost the
Chicago area alone over $582 million
in the first year.
Denzler emphasized that closing
the waterway would also be environ-
mentally damaging. Without a water-
way, he said, materials would have to
be transported by semi trucks, which
get around 59 miles to the gallon, as
opposed to barges, which average
around 514 miles per gallon.
"From an environmental stand-
point, every barge that's used is equiv-
alent to about 80 semi trucks," he said.
"That's about 6,000 semi trucks of
materials in a week ... that's a convoy
that would go from Chicago allithe way
Denzler said the members of Un-
Lock Our Jobs care about the environ-
ment and appreciate the severity of an
Asian carp invasion just as much as
anyone else but believe that there are
other ways to defend the Great Lakes.
He said he didn't think the electric
barrier was enough to deter the Asian
carp, but additional defenses like bub-
ble barriers, toxins and fish reproduc-
tion control could solve the problem
without having to close the locks.
Denzler said that the political
response to last week's catch was a
"knee-jerk reaction" and that it's still
unclear how the fish even arrived
in Lake Calumet in the first place. It
could have swum up the river, he said,
but it also could have been accidentally
dumped there by someone.
In a June 3 report from the U.S.
Army Corp of Engineers, Colonel Vin-
cent Quarles was quoted as saying that
closing the locks would not be an effec-
tive method of keeping Asian carp out
of the Great Lakes.
"Our analysis incorporated infor-
mation gathered from USFWS and
other Asian carp experts. In the end
the analysis showed that using mea-
ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES/AP
A 20-pound Asian carp is held after being caught beyond the electric barriers.
sures such as temporary lock closures
will do very little to reduce the risk of
Asian carp migration," Quarles said.
Brammeier said that the concerns
from members of Un-Lock Our Jobs
don't apply to the hydrological separa-
tion that Alliance for the Great Lakes
advocates for because the permanent
barrier would be in a different location
that would not interfere with signifi-
cant resource transportation.
"Those locks were built to move
resentatives of Congress, urging the
administration to act immediately in
the interest of protecting the lakes.
Brammeier said that whatever
effective temporary solutions that can
be done should be done, but ultimately
federal officials need to work harder
for a long-term solution.
"What we're learning is these fish
move fast, and for us to have any shot
at protecting the lakes is, we have to
move faster," he said.
water, not to stop fish, and their loca-
tions were chosen for that purpose.
Frankly, the locks don't tell us much
if anything about where a permanent
separation should take place, so any * 1
argument about what closing locks
would do isn't relevant," Brammeier
Last Friday, a group of senators from
the Great Lakes region, including Sta-
benow, Durbin and Senator Carl Levin
(D-Mich.), sent a letter to President
Barack Obama asking for the imme-
diate appointment of a Coordinated
Response Commander who would
oversee the day-to-day efforts of fed-
eral, state and local agencies in keeping
Asian carp out of the Great Lakes.
Another letter to Obama was signed
yesterday by 14 senators and 33 rep-
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