Durbin: Fish and Wildlife Service Report No Carp Found Above Barrier

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) today reported that three months of analysis by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has yielded no new evidence that Asian carp have bypassed the electric barrier in the Chicago Ship and Sanity Canal.  In a meeting with Fish and Wildlife Service Deputy Regional Midwest Director Charlie Wooley, Durbin learned that the agency will continue working through the summer with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) and other federal agencies to prevent Asian carp from reaching the Great Lakes.
“While it is a good sign that no Asian carp have been found above the electric barrier, the presence of genetic material in this area means that continued vigilance is of the utmost importance,” said Durbin.  “Over the summer, the Fish and Wildlife Service will begin implementing new prevention techniques while working closely with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to monitor the carp.  This is the beginning of an aggressive campaign – that will require unprecedented levels of coordination between local, state and federal leaders – to prevent this invasive species from reaching the Great Lakes.  Working together, we can find a solution that will protect our lakes, while preserving jobs and promoting economic activity in the region.”
The Fish and Wildlife Service studied the Chicago Ship and Sanitary Canal between the months of January and March, logged 34 days on the water with multiple crews to electrofish and net.  The agency worked closely with IDNR in areas above the electric barrier where eDNA – genetic material – had been found.  They tested their methods in downstream waters that were heavily infested Asian carp to validate their techniques.  More than 25 biologists who were involved in the sampling determined that no carp were found above the electric barrier.
In a January meeting, Durbin and Representative Judy Biggert (R-IL) led Members of Congress in an agreement to seek $20 million in federal funding to implement the 2007 US Fish & Wildlife Service Management and Control plan for the Asian carp which identifies a wide range of techniques for addressing the carp such as: increasing commercial fishing and Asian carp harvests; finding a new poison that only targets the Asian carp; and researching pheromones and other technology to attract carp to known locations.
Durbin and Biggert have worked together to secure more than $25 million in federal funding to prevent the Asian carp from entering Lake Michigan.  State and federal agencies have already spent millions of dollars to contain the fish, particularly through the electric Asian Carp Barrier project of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Since 1998, the barrier project has received $41.2 million in federal funding.  The Obama administration recently launched a $475 million comprehensive Great Lakes initiative which provides a regional approach to controlling invasive species, reducing non-point-source pollution, and cleaning up contaminated sediment.