Illinois lead biologist on invasive fish, Steve Shults, had a tempered response to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’s report on Friday about Asian carp possibly advancing up the Sanitary and Ship Canal. His key point was “As of now, traditional monitoring has not produced a physical specimen of Asian carp from the canal.”
Here’s the complete response from the IDNR’s aquaculture/ANS program manager when I asked about the significance of the Corps report:
The announcement of Asian carp closer to the barrier is based on environmental DNA testing. Essentially, this method collects a water sample, filters DNA from it and attempts to determine if a particular fish species is present. As of now, traditional monitoring has not produced a physical specimen of Asian carp from the canal. So, eDNA results are certainly a signficant finding – but not alarming. Additional samples have been taken, as well as increased efforts attempting to verify whether specimens may be in the Lockport pool, the Brandon Road pool, etc. This discovery does remind us of the importance to continue efforts to prevent Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes. Various methods should be considered including taking necessary steps to increase the voltage at the barrier to repel small and juvenile fish, fully constructing the second barrier, closing breaches between the DesPlaines River and the CSSC, etc. These efforts must happen while ensuring continuous, safe barrier operations in a manner that doesn’t unduly impede navigation.