Asian Carp Sampling Underway On Little Calumet River

A five-mile section of the Little Calumet River in South Chicago is now closed to all traffic for a period of four to six days as sampling efforts for Asian carp get underway. The closure is necessary for biologists to safely and effectively apply the fish toxicant Rotenone to a more than two-mile stretch of the waterway at T.J. O’Brien Lock and Dam as a part of ongoing Asian carp sampling efforts by the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee (RCC).

The length and location of the application and fish removal area was chosen to maximize the opportunity to capture Asian carp by including a variety of habitats along a substantial length of river channel that has had a high frequency of positive eDNA detections. 
 
In addition to the Rotenone action, simultaneous electrofishing and commercial netting will take place between the downstream block net and Acme Bend.  Electrofishing and netting will allow for an expansion of the area sampled and a comparison of conventional methods with Rotenone sampling. 
 
The  waterway  will  be  treated  in  one  day,  and  the fish recovery  phase  of  the  operation  will  last  for  four  to  five  days.    During  that  time,  the  FWS,  IDNR,  and  other  participating  agencies  will  aim  to  recover  as  many  fish  in  the  application  area  as  possible  to  determine  the  abundance  and  type  of  fish  present  in  the  treated  area.  The  toxicant  will  eradicate  Asian  carp  and  other  fish  in  the  canal,  but  does  not  present  a  risk  to  people  or  other  wildlife  when  used  properly.

To meet the requirements of the Rotenone label, during the operation, people should NOT:
• Swim or recreate in the treatment area
• Catch or eat fish found in the treatment areaDrinking water in homes near the treatment area is safe.  There are no known private wells near the treatment area and the nearest public drinking water system in the direction of flow downstream is over 150 miles away.

During  the  application  and  recovery  phases,  the  U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) will  implement  a  safety  zone from River Mile Post 321.5 to 326.5 to  protect  waterway  users  and  workers  conducting  sampling  operations  in  the  vicinity  of  the  O’Brien  Lock.  Access  to  the  river  will  be  restricted  for  a  period  of  five  to  seven  days,  meaning  that  boaters  will  not  be  able  to  transit  the  safety  zone  until  sampling  operations  are  completed  and  the  safety  zone  is rescinded  by  the  USCG.  The safety  zone  notice  for  this  sampling  is  published  in  the  Federal  Register  and  is  also  posted  online at  http://www.uscg.fishbarrierinfo.com.

Rotenone, a fish toxicant commonly used in fisheries management, was previously used on a six-mile stretch of the Chicago Sanitary and Shipping Canal in December of 2009 while the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers shut down the Electric Barrier System for routine maintenance.  That effort yielded one Bighead carp caught just above the Lockport Lock and Powerhouse approximately six miles downstream of the electric barrier. No Asian carp have been found above the electric barrier to date.

Knowledge of the population size and location of possible Asian carp in CAWS is important data that will inform biologists and decision makers on selecting and prioritizing appropriate future actions to keep Asian carp from moving into Lake Michigan.

Further details on implementation of this new sampling and monitoring plan is  detailed in the updated Asian Carp Control Strategy Framework,  released in May 2010, on http://asiancarp.org
The RCC includes representatives from the City of Chicago, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey, the Great Lakes Fishery Commission and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.These partners and others are working to address the threat Asian carp pose to the Great Lakes through the development and implementation of the Asian Carp Control Strategy Framework.

The Framework, which is guided by the latest scientific research, is expected to encompass more than two dozen short- and long-term actions and up to $78.5 million in federal investments to combat the spread of Asian carp.  The full framework is available for viewing at asiancarp.org.

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