From the Michigan Messenger:

A $78.5 million dollar federal plan to keep Asian carp from becoming established in the Great Lakes is drawing criticism from diverse groups that say the proposed temporary closure of the locks in Chicago area canals will disrupt the economy without stopping the spread of aquatic invaders.

The Chicago canal system that connects the Mississippi River system to the Great Lakes basin conveys much of the Chicago region’s petroleum, coal, road salt, cement, and iron, according to federal officials, along with 15,000 recreational boats and 900,000 passengers that travel through the locks on the system each year.

The canal system is also thought to be the route through which Asian Carp could enter — or perhaps already has entered — Lake Michigan.

Asian carp have been designated a nuisance fish by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service because they can out compete other fish and dominate ecosystems. The Bighead carp can grow to 100lbs, and the Silverhead carp has been called a “live missile“ because it can jump several feet out of the water and has caused injuries to boaters. Many worry that these Asian carp, which have no natural predators in this region, could destroy Great Lakes fisheries and recreational boating if they become established in the lakes.

The draft Asian Carp Control Strategy Framework, released last week, includes short and long term action items that range from fish herding and poisoning to construction of new barriers, changes to the operations of the Chicago Sanitary and Shipping Canal and long term studies on the movement of invasive species between waterways.

At a hearing on this framework, convened last Friday by the EPA Office of the Great Lakes in Chicago, it became quickly apparent that the locks are the flashpoint in the growing national debate over how to respond to Asian carp.


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