Wednesday, February 24, 2010

U.S. EPA Announces Comprehensive Asian Carp Strategy

Earlier this month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency published a draft "Asian Carp Control Strategy Framework."  The main objectives of the Framework were to

• Establish the need for participating agencies to act urgently to prevent Asian carp from becoming established in the Great Lakes.

• Integrate and unify the future actions of participating agencies.

• Transition from a single point defense (electric barriers) to a multi-tiered approach.

• Provide general direction while recognizing that the pattern of Asian carp migration demands a measure of flexibility on the part of participating agencies to act.

• Recognize potential hurdles that might complicate Framework implementation.

• Suggest an approach for stakeholders and other agencies to actively collaborate in future efforts.
The Framework suggested the following actions:
Short-term Actions (Either underway or are expected to commence by May 15, 2010)

1. Operations to confirm and reduce carp populations

• Utilize chemical, netting and other mechanisms in known eDNA priority zones (Cal-Sag Channel, O’Brien Lock and Dam, Wilmette pumping station, and Calumet Harbor).

• Ensure Rotenone (a piscicide) supplies and fishing capabilities are adequate for possible responses.

• Prepare for immediate rapid response operations by procuring equipment, providing training and exercises for personnel, and creating stand-by capability for rapid deployment.

2. Increased fish collection effort for confirmation of eDNA results and carp populations

• Deploy more frequent and intense harvesting methods in conjunction with rotenone applications where feasible and coordinate efforts with eDNA sampling to increase likelihood of successful collection.

3. eDNA indicator refinement

• Increase capacity to 120 samples per week by April of eDNA results to guide efforts.

4. Modified structural operations

• Change the manner in which existing CAWS structures, such as locks & dams, sluice gates and pumping stations, are operated in combination with other management actions, to impede the migration of Asian carp into the Great Lakes. This concept is likely to be incrementally executed as capabilities become available. The impacts of this as well as the potential efficacy of any actions will be evaluated pursuant to applicable laws such as the National Environmental Policy Act

• Implement an approach with three phases

i. Phase 1: Concept Development – Integrate agencies’ efforts to develop methods to suppress Asian carp population growth while USACE and U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) simultaneously determine how to optimize/reduce the number of lock openings, and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) considers how to operate the Wilmette Pumping Station to impede Asian carp movement. This will occur after engaging the navigation industry. The goal for this phase is to complete concept development and recommended actions by early March 2010;

ii. Phase 2: Initial Implementation – Execute modified structural operations as quickly as possible once methodologies are ready, with initial elements underway by April 30, 2010;

iii. Phase 3: Additional Implementation – Adjust initial methodologies based on field results to sustain longer term operations. In conjunction with continued population suppression, continue to field new methodologies as they become available, such as acoustic bubble barriers or electric barriers, as well as addition of screens at sluice gates and bulkheads for use during flood damage reduction operations with goal of full implementation by the end of 2010.

5. Construct emergency engineering measures to block passage of water and fish between (1) Des Plaines River and CSSC and (2) Illinois and Michigan (I&M) Canal and CSSC.

6. Increased biological control efforts

• With increased funding and capacity, expedite research on targeted control, including pheromone attractants, disruption of spawning behavior, and decreasing egg viability.

7. Barrier operations

• Sustained operations of the current electric dispersal barriers and construction of the new planned electric barrier, both important impediments to the Asian carp expansion in the Great Lakes.

Long-term Actions

The Long-term Actions are also integral to the success of preventing Asian carp from establishing a self-sustaining population in Lake Michigan. Examples of actions are shown below in five sub-categories; however the set of proposed actions, listed later in this document, is more comprehensive.

1. Structural:

• Efficacy studies to investigate the construction and implementation of additional barriers such as electric, light, and/or bio-acoustic bubble barriers

2. Chemical:

• Additional possible rotenone applications where testing suggests Asian carp presence

3. Biological:

• Suppression of Asian carp populations in CAWS and in downstream areas utilizing a variety of methods

• Development of biological controls similar to those used for lamprey suppression

4. Operational:

• Sustained operations of electric barriers

• Enhanced monitoring programs via traditional or new methods

5. Other:

• Controlled lock operations using chemical and other means to reduce migration

• Promotion of Asian carp market development

• Integration of the Great Lake States, Provincial, and Tribal capabilities and expertise into the proposed framework actions

• Technology enhancement programs

Stay tuned to the Illinois Environmental Law Blog for more news and developments.

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