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Great Lakes Article:

Great Lakes panel wants monster fish to stay away
John C. Kuehner
Plain Dealer Reporter
10/16/2002

Leaders from eight states and Canada want to stop the Asian carp before it gets any closer to the Great Lakes.

They urged the federal government yesterday to beef up fish barriers in the Chicago shipping channel before it's too late.

A temporary electric barrier erected in April is all that stands between Lake Michigan and the Asian carp, several monster-size fish species from China and Siberia that have voracious appetites and, experts say, could devastate the Great Lakes.

Great Lakes Commission members adopted a resolution that asks the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to build a second barrier and upgrade the existing one, including adding a backup power source in case of a blackout.

"This is something that we know is coming and there's still time to do something about it," said Sam Speck, the director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and commission delegate. "It should be easy to say, 'Let's get this done now.' "

The resolution is one of five Great Lakes issues that the 32 commissioners adopted at their annual meeting yesterday, which was held in Cleveland.

Commissioners, who represent eight Great Lakes states and two provinces of Canada, did not get a chance to consider a proposal to designate Lake St. Clair as the sixth Great Lake. Backers withheld it for fear of defeat.

Other resolutions dealt with beach closings and water quality concerns and support for reauthorizing the federal National Invasive Species Act.

But stopping the carp is a top priority. Donald R. Vonnahme, Illinois director of Water Resources, said he is working to reallocate $7 million in state funds to build the barrier. He said he expects the federal government to credit the state.

The Asian carp escaped from fish farms into the Mississippi River during floods in the 1980s. They have since moved up the river. The latest estimates are that they're 50 miles from Lake Michigan and 25 miles from the barrier, Vonnahme said.

The barrier would be a railroad-type rail on the bottom of the channel charged with a nonlethal dose of electricity that jolts fish into turning around, said Jan Miller, an environmental engineer with the corps.

"No one has estimated that one barrier is 100 percent effective," Miller said. "You need a backup barrier."

© 2002 The Plain Dealer.

This information is posted for nonprofit educational purposes, in accordance with U.S. Code Title 17, Chapter 1,Sec. 107 copyright laws.

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