It's not only our Great Lakes Basin at risk..
The other surprising piece to this story is the under reported threat of invasive species travelling from the Great Lakes and infesting the Mississippi River Basin. The United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) developed the Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study (GLMRIS) with the objective of finding options to prevent inter-basin transfer of "aquatic nuisance species" (ANS) or aquatic invasive species. The study focused on preventing 13 of some 254 ANS species - 3 of which could transfer to the Great Lakes and include Scud , Silver Carp, and Bighead Carp ; and 10 which posed a risk for the Mississippi River Basin. Aquatic invasives or ANS harm ecosystems, reduce native biodiversity and quantity, effect water quality, threaten the economy, and can create social disruption. Because of the devastating impact of Asian carp on neighbouring watersheds, there is much incentive for so many stakeholders to come together and work out preventative solutions for Asian carp in particular.
Asian carp in abundance in nearby watersheds..
Coming up the the Illinios River
" It has been estimated that the three lower reaches of the Illinois River (the first 231 miles of the Illinois Waterway, up to Starved Rock Lock and Dam about 100 miles from Lake Michigan) contained approximately 3.1 million pounds of Asian carp, of which Silver Carp make up about 90 % of the population density of which Bighead Carp make up 70 % of the biomass.11"
Dresden Island Pool Leading Edge of adult Asian carp population
What about all those reports of Asian carp findings in the Great Lakes?There have been findings of Asian carp in the Great Lakes and even as far-flung as Lake Ontario . However, these findings have been relatively isolated catches; meaning that there is that there is no evidence of a breeding or established population of the high risk Bighead carp or Silver carp. (Read here about the 4 different species of Asian Carp). However, Asian carp are close, and all entry points and Great Lakes are of great concern and need to be prioritized. Entry to Lake Michigan via the Chicago Area Waterways (CAWS) System and the Illinois River have been assessed as the largest risk to a Great Lakes invasion. Within this system (CAWS), the adult population front of Bighead and Silver carp is 55 miles, and two locks away from Lake Michigan according to officials in 2014,11. Propitiously, this "overall leading edge" has not changed since 2006 and does not include spawning activity that happens further downstream in the Illinois river. Officials can never be complacent though - Silver Carp larvae were mapped further north on the Illinois River in June 2015 then ever before.
While Lake Michigan is the most vulnerable entry point, other studies point to Lake ErieA recent study suggests Lake Erie1 is the most threatened ecosystem due to a higher variety of fish species verses the other Great Lakes. It is argued by some and very hotly debated that with less plankton, Lake Michigan and Lake Superior are less likely to support larger volumes of Asian carp. In addition to walleye, Lake Erie faces losses that include rainbow trout, gizzard shad and emerald shiners. Alarmingly, officials have found evidence of Grass Carp reproduction in Lake Erie. While this type of Asian carp is thought to be less destructive than Bighead or Silver Carp because they eat plants instead of plankton, they are still voracious eaters who can harm wetlands and alter the environment for other fish.
Georgian Bay Forever believes that Asian carp are a significant threat to all the Great Lakes and Georgian Bay. Understanding the state of the struggle, and the complexities, and recognizing the species and its dangers are all important to helping prevent Asian carp from establishing in the Great Lakes and Georgian Bay. We have summarized some of the key measures below:
5 current Asian carp prevention measures
The primary current defence structures against Asian carp are electro-magnetic fields north of the Lockport Lock and Jam in the Chicago Area Waterways (CAWS) about 40 km south of Chicago. Engineered by the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), these barriers will be managed by them in the future.
In June 2015, it published the "Asian Carp Strategy Framework" which provides a comprehensive summary of all the major work being done on controlling Asian carp. Bighead and Silver Carp are the focus, with the 2015 framework including Grass and Black Carp for the first time. [update May 6] The ARCC just released the 2016 Asian Carp Control Action Plan. GBF will take sometime to review it, but here is their summary with a PDF of their Action Plan.
It is illegal to transport, sell, or possess live Asian Carp in Ontario and the Great Lakes US States21. Ontario strengthened its ability to prevent aquatic invasive species with the passing of Bill 37 in October, the Invasive Species Act 2015 which prohibited import and possession of significant-threat species (the regulations are to follow). While experts think that there is less from this potential introduction then from the CAWS; it still is very critical to stop.
What is CAWS? - Chicago Area Waterway SystemThe CAWS is a 128 mile system of mostly man made waterways comprised of canals and river channels in northeastern Illinois and northwestern Indiana. It grew to service a growing Chicago. In the early 1900's, sewage needed to moved away from Chicago by reversing the flow of the Chicago and Calumet Rivers into Lake Michigan toward the Mississippi via the Chicago Sanitary & Ship Canal. It is the only permanent hydrologic link between the Mississippi River Basin and the Great Lakes basin. CAWS has purposes beyond sanitation, including being the only navigable inland link for shipping and recreation between the Mississippi River and the Great Lakes . To give you an idea of the vessel traffic, two major locks within the CAWS, the Chicago Lock and the Thomas J. O'Brien Lock & Dam handled more than 50,000 watercrafts in 2008. CAWS is thought be be the greatest risk for the transfer of Asian carp to the Great Lakes through its 5 aquatic pathways between Lake Michigan and the Mississippi River Basin:
- 1. Wilmette Pumping Station, IL
2. Chicago River Controlling Works, IL
3. Calumet Harbor, IL
4. Indiana Harbor, IN
5. Burns Small Boat Harbor, IN
What’s an invasive species?
5 Interim Initiatives Under Consideration or Underway or Under Consideration
What is GLMRIS?
- Here is a short summary from GLMRIS of the options:
1. Do nothing - Continue with current efforts and spend levels(i.e., the electric barriers, monitoring etc.) Modifications and changes to current CAWs system
2. Nonstructural control technologies (i.e., education, monitoring, herbicides, ballast water management)
3. Specialized lock, lock channel, electric barriers and ANS treatment plants at two mid-system locations in the CAWS.
4. CAWS buffer zone using the same technologies as number 3, preventing downstream passage from Lake Michigan at five points and preventing upstream passage at a single point at Brandon Road Lock and Dam. Hydrological separation
5. Material barricades separating the basins at 4 locations along the lakefront of Lake Michigan.
6. Material barricades separating the basins at 2 mid-system locations .
7. Material barricades at 4 mid-system locations, leaving the Cal-Sag channel open.
8. A hybrid of technology and material barricades at 4 mid-system locations, leaving the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal open.
Great read- Summary of GLMRIS
Sources and acknowledgements:
2https://www.michigandaily.com/section/news/research-team-predicts-impact-asian-carp-lake-erie Michigan Daily. Impact of Asian carp on Great Lakes could be overestimated. Megan Doyle. Friday, January 8, 2016 - 1:19am . Retrieved February 29, 2016 at https://www.michigandaily.com/section/news/research-team-predicts-impact-asian-carp-lake-erie 3https://www.mlive.com/news/index.ssf/2016/01/chicago_diversion_asian_carp.html Michigan Daily. Impact of Asian carp on Great Lakes could be overestimated. Megan Doyle. Friday, January 8, 2016 - 1:19am . Retrieved February 29, 2016 at https://www.mlive.com/news/index.ssf/2016/01/chicago_diversion_asian_carp.html 4https://articles.chicagotribune.com/2011-03-25/news/ct-met-asian-carp-0327-20110325_1_electric-barriers-charlie-wooley-ohio-river-division. Chicago Tribune Electric barriers stop big Asian carp, tests show March 25, 2011|By Katherine Skiba. Retrieved February 29, 2016 at https://articles.chicagotribune.com/2011-03-25/news/ct-met-asian-carp-0327-20110325_1_electric-barriers-charlie-wooley-ohio-river-division
5https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicago_Area_Waterway_SystemWikkipedia Chicago Area Waterways. . Retrieved February 29, 2016 at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicago_Area_Waterway_System
6https://uwaterloo.ca/stories/when-invasive-asian-carp-look-love-all-right-places-0University of Waterloo. Waterloo stories.When invasive Asian carp look for love in all the right places. By Victoria Van Cappellen . Retrieved February 29, 2016 at
7https://ca.news.yahoo.com/study-says-asian-carp-eventually-could-one-third-224125950.html?nhp=1Yahoo News. Study says Asian carp eventually could make up one-third of combined fish weight in Lake Erie John Flesher, The Associated Press, The Canadian Press. January 4, 2016. Retrieved February 29, 2016 at https://ca.news.yahoo.com/study-says-asian-carp-eventually-could-one-third-224125950.html?nhp=1"
8https://glmris.anl.gov/faq/#electricGLRIS Frequently asked Questions. what is eDNA, and how is USACE using it? John Flesher, The Associated Press, The Canadian Press. January 4, 2016. Retrieved February 29, 2016 at https://ca.news.yahoo.com/study-says-asian-carp-eventually-could-one-third-224125950.html?nhp=1 10Page 3 of the Asian Carp Strategy Control Framework 2015 shows the massive distribution growth of Bighead and Silver Carp from 1990 to 2010 in the Mississippi River and Ohio Basins. https://asiancarp.us/documents/2015Framework.pdf 11Page 5-6 of the Asian Carp Strategy Control Framework 2015 https://asiancarp.us/documents/2015Framework.pdf 12 Page 14 https://asiancarp.us/documents/2015Framework.pdf 13 https://cida.usgs.gov/glri/projects/invasive_species/9-seismic-water-guns-asian-carp-control-9.html 14 https://asiancarp.azurewebsites.net/WHAT-IS-AT-RISK/Socio-economic-Impact 15https://thefisheriesblog.com/2015/10/12/co2-fish-barriers/. October 12, 2015. 16http://www.invasivespeciescentre.ca/SitePages/Learn/EconomicImpacts.aspx 18 Sweetnam, David. Keeping the critters out. Georgian Bay Forever, Spring 2012 newsletter issue. Page 5 19 Sweetnam, David. Keeping the critters out. Georgian Bay Forever, Spring 2012 newsletter issue. Page 5 20ASian Carp. COntrol Strategy Framework, June 2015 June 2015 Page 14. Retrieved March 21, 2016 21 Retrieved March 21, 2016 at https://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/science/coe-cde/ceara/AIS-EAE/asian_carp-carpe_asiatique-eng.htm 22Aulakh, Raveena. “Meet Canada’s Asian carp detective.” Thestar.com. Sept 28, 2015. Retrieved from https://www.thestar.com/news/insight/2015/09/28/meet-canadas-asian-carp-detective.html.