TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — Federal officials said Wednesday they were
evaluating dozens of options for stopping Asian carp and other invasive
species from crossing between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River systems
and doing environmental harm in their new surroundings.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released a report listing more than 90
options for blocking the path of would-be aquatic migrants, including
poisoning sections of waterways, installing devices that emit light and
sound waves, and inducing genetic changes to prevent organisms from
The report did not indicate which controls the Army Corps might prefer or
evaluate their effectiveness or potential cost. Project manager Dave
Wethington said experts will pare down the “shopping list” to determine
which methods are likely to work best. They will accept public comments from
Dec. 21 to Feb. 17.
“It’s very important that we cover all the possible combinations of
technologies,” said John Goss, the Obama administration’s Asian carp program
Among the alternatives is installing barriers or other structures to sever
the century-old, man-made link between the two systems near Lake Michigan in
the Chicago area. That method is preferred by Michigan, Wisconsin,
Minnesota, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
Those states are suing the federal government, demanding quicker action to
prevent Asian carp from reaching the Great Lakes, and disrupting their
fishing industry by gobbling up plankton needed by other organisms in the
Illinois and Chicago-area business interests say cutting the artificial link
would disrupt waterborne commerce and kill jobs.
Goss said an electric barrier network on a shipping canal southwest of
Chicago is preventing Asian carp and other fish from swimming northward
toward Lake Michigan. No bighead or silver carp — the two Asian species
threatening to attack the lakes — have been found beyond the barrier this
year, although their genetic material continues to turn up in water samples
there. The Army Corps strengthened the barrier’s electric pulses this fall.
Still, Goss said the barrier was designed to deter fish and wouldn’t
necessarily prevent other organisms from getting through. Earlier this year,
the Army Corps released a list of 38 other invasive species that pose a risk
of slipping between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi, including several
types of algae, crustaceans such as the spiny water flea, mollusks and
The Corps also is looking at 18 other waterways from New York to Minnesota
that could provide pathways between the two watersheds.
Some of the technologies in Wednesday’s report are already in use, including
fish and plant poisons and stepped-up harvesting by commercial fishermen.
Others are still under development.
Among the possibilities are creating high-velocity waterfalls to block
upstream passage, zapping species with ultraviolet light or ultrasound,
sucking oxygen from the water or raising its temperature to lethal levels,
and using biological repellents or pheromones to lure invaders to places
where they could be trapped or killed.
The Army Corps will report to Congress on its findings in late 2015 or early
2016, said Gary O’Keefe, invasive species program manager for the Great
Federal officials have said previously the study would be completed in 2015.
The possibility of a delay into the next year drew criticism from John
Sellek, spokesman for the Michigan attorney general’s office.
“They can’t even maintain their own snail’s pace in fighting a fish,” Sellek
for the White House Council on Environmental Quality said the timetable had