Asian carp prevention: Options for basin separation will be released in January

A long-awaited study addressing Asian carp prevention will be open for public comment next month. The study deals with hydrologic connections in the Chicago Area Waterway System and eighteen other locations.

The Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study (GLMRIS) is an effort led by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) that will evaluate Aquatic Nuisance Species (ANS) control options that could prevent the exchange of species between the two basins. Although at least thirty-two exotic species are at risk of moving from one basin to the other via a variety of pathways and establishing new populations, the impetus for this study was the risk posed by Asian carp moving through Chicago Area Waterway System (CAWS) toward Lake Michigan.

The Stop Invasive Species Act, signed in July 2012, mandated that the study be completed in eighteen months, and the study is on schedule to publicize findings in January 2014. A series of public meetings will hosted by USACE during the public comment period, and this is slated to include meetings in Ann Arbor and Traverse City. Interested parties can check the GLMRIS website for details, as they are made available.

Although the study will not provide a recommendation for taking specific actions needed to stop Asian carp and other invasive species, it will offer some analysis of costs and benefits associated with two hydrologic separation options for the Chicago Area Waterway System. For those concerned with protecting the Great Lakes from Asian carp, the study will mark a next step toward better understanding of how basin separation might proceed.

The GLMRIS study and recent advances in understanding Asian carp ecology will be discussed at the upcoming Ludington Regional Fisheries Workshop. This is an annual meeting open to the public that is hosted by Michigan Sea Grant and Michigan State University Extension, in conjunction with partner organizations including Michigan Department of Natural Resources, United States Fish and Wildlife Service, NOAA’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, Michigan Steelhead and Salmon Fishermen’s Association, Ludington Charter Boat Association, and Michigan Charter Boat Association.

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