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Fish Kill: Day 2

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I am very frustrated, this fish kill sanctioned by local, state, federal and international groups just blows my mind.


This was part of the scene yesterday as the boondoggle associated with the electric barrier at Romeoville, designed to keep Asian carp from advancing to Lake Michigan, just keeps growing.

Yet, we keep dumping millions of dollars after millions of dollars in what will go down as not only the greatest boondoggle in the history of Chicago outdoors, but one of the all-timer boondoggles in Chicago history, and that's saying something.

To answer the questions of readers/viwers, I plan to keep tracking this. I don't think I can make it today, but tomorrow I plan to document more of it.

In the meantime, here is some of the official word from the start of fish kill, which began last night, on a nearly six-mile stretch around Romeoville and Lockport.

Asian Carp Rapid Response Project to begin on Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal

Canal will be closed beginning December 2 in support of electric barrier maintenance

ROMEOVILLE, IL - The Asian Carp Rapid Response team will begin its work this week on the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal (CSSC) to control the movement of Asian carp. The project is in support of required scheduled maintenance of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Barrier IIA, one of two electric barriers currently in operation on the CSSC. The barriers were constructed to prevent the movement of Asian carp into Lake Michigan.

The canal will to be closed to all traffic beginning December 2 (weather permitting) for a period of four to five days during which workers will apply a fish toxicant, known as rotenone, to a 5.7-mile section of the CSSC between the barrier and the Lockport Lock and Dam. During the closure, the USACE will perform routine maintenance work on Barrier IIA. No bank fishing or other activities will be permitted at the canal during the operation.

Water quality experts from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) will be monitoring downstream of the application zone to ensure that the waters of the state are protected, and the chemicals do not move beyond the designated application area.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), in coordination with the multi-agency workgroup along with the Great Lakes Interagency Task Force, will manage the application of rotenone.

The toxicant will eradicate Asian carp and other fish in the canal, but does not present a risk to people or other wildlife when used properly. Dead fish will be removed from the canal and properly disposed at a landfill.

While Asian carp have been detected using environmental DNA testing in the canal above and below the barrier, no actual specimen has been found. Despite the lack of physical evidence, there is consensus among federal, state, and local agencies along with other partners that actions must be taken to prevent these invasive species from reaching Lake Michigan.

"The barrier system is a critical element in the fight to keep Asian carp from migrating into Lake Michigan via the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal. The Army Corps of Engineers is committed to keeping the barrier system operating effectively and regularly scheduled maintenance is a key part of that process," said Col. Vincent Quarles, commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Chicago District.

"We believe it is still critical to support and defend the electric barrier while it is down for maintenance," said IDNR Assistant Director John Rogner. "The barrier remains our most effective weapon against this very aggressive invasive species."

IDNR fisheries biologists are using various sampling methods in areas above the barrier where positive environmental DNA tests have identified the presence of Asian carp in an attempt to find a physical specimen.

If Asian carp become established in the Great Lakes, they could cause a catastrophic decline in native fish species and severely damage the Great Lakes fishing industry, valued at $7 billion.

"Everyone on this team is fully aware that urgent action must be taken to keep these destructive fish out of the Great Lakes," said Cameron Davis, Senior Advisor to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson on the Great Lakes.

"The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is committed to working with the State of Illinois, the U.S. Corps of Engineers and all of the Asian Carp Working Group partners to provide technical assistance, including on-the -ground personnel and resources to support the Rapid Response Plan," said Charlie Wooley, Deputy Regional Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The schedule of events, weather permitting, is listed below:

Tuesday, Dec 1

· Staging

Wednesday, Dec 2

· Electro-fishing/salvage/relocation of sport fish

· Rotenone application begins p.m.

Thursday, Dec 3

· Rotenone Application continues early a.m.

· Begin clean up

· Barrier maintenance begins

Friday, Dec 4

· Clean-up continues

Saturday, Dec 5

· Begin demobilization

The Asian Carp Rapid Response Workgroup includes the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Coast Guard, USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Chicago Department of Environment, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, Midwest Generation, Great Lakes Commission, Great Lakes Fishery Commission, International Joint Commission, and Wisconsin Sea Grant. Fisheries management agencies from Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York are also providing support to the operation.

Additional information about the recent sampling efforts is available on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' website at

For more information about Asian carp and the Rapid Response operations on the CSSC, the public and media are encouraged to log on to The website will be updated daily during operations with details about the project, weather delays, and other information.

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I don't get it. You want Carp in the Great Lakes?

FWIW I've contact all me elected reps.

Irrational fear and over heated rhetoric is always a dangerous combo. The Detroit Free Press is the worst of the bunch. Yellow journalism and fear mongering at it's absoulte worst.

Thursday 12-3-09
Used lunchtime today to get my view of the canal..

Drove over at 135th and Rt 7 for a quick view.
Nothing but a few boats cruising around.
No visual fish mass floating.
Few boats cruising around.
Maybe all the floaters were picked up over night..

Couldn't get near the command center, nor the lock!
The lock will be the best place since its the end of the line on that waterway.

Went back to 135th and walked onto the bridge.
In 30 minutes I saw (1) fish floating which i think was a yellowbullhead about 2 pounds..

between myself and 4 others we saw a total of 2 fish floating below the electric barrier..

The one I saw had drifted thru the barrier area..
He was probably above the barrier when he died......


The issue isn't whether we want Asian carp in the Great Lakes. Nobody does. The bogus SHOUT of fear is being used to justify an unjustifiable expenditure of time, resources and money on an untenable project.

create jobs out of this- carp fisherman- pay people to catch them-5 cents per pound- before long they would become an endangered species perhaps - hence problem solved- helps the economy and lord knows when there's money involved everyone wants a piece of the pie. Use the dead carp for cat food or fertilizer- oh wait- too late now...they are tainted with poison- someone needs to start thinking logically for once- stop throwing poisons and pesticides around-

And now the State of Michigan is threatening to sue Illinois if the Asian carp get into the Great Lakes. Can we then sue the State of Arkansas? The carp were originally brought in for their fish farms.

Despite all of the education most of us receive, this is enough proof for me that we (humans) are a part of the world's dumbest race.

I feel you, Dale.

I'm off tomorrow, might take the drive down there to see what's up in later afternoon. If figure that if I cannot get near the site, I've got one of my favorite Pike spots nearby on the DPR.

Don't be a luddite!. The ship canal is chicago's sewer pipe to the illinois river. So what if they have to kill a few of the fish there, it is only a temporary fix. The fish will return in a few years, so will the asian carp. The cost of the poisoning operation is trivial compared to the damage that will be done to the great lakes if the carp gets there. This is the ecological cost of chicago disposing of its waste on downstate illinois. Just dumping it downstream doesn't work so good on a lake does it? The cost of the fish poisoning and the electric barrier is just part of the cost of Chicago's waste disposal. Sometimes the "waste" goes upstream too, deal with it.

I totally agree with Dale. This is not going to solve the problem. Nature has a way of adapting and overcoming. The only true way that this can be solved is to return the Chicago river back to the way God made it. This presents a couple of problems, economic impact to the shipping industry and Chicagoans will have to look at all thier trash and sewage going into the lake, the way the poor folks in Central Il have looked at it coming down the Il riv. There is a commercial fishery on the Il riv but the price per lb and the distance they have to haul them doesnt make it an attractive venture. Lets get the feds to put a .20 per pound bounty on them and see what happens. BTW- that omega 3 fish oil everybody eats, comes from the asian carp on the Il riv.

Seperate the cost of this project for one second, and look at the long term effects of what these fish can do. Many of the comments I've read in other posts aren't what I'd consider from the sport fishing community, but rather comments on what appears to strictly be a waste of gov't. money. First of all, the fish in that waterway that were killed are "rough" fish - fish that aren't targeted and consumed by fisherman in the first place. (And please folks, spare me the "but people like to catch these fish too" speach...) Second, you'd have to be out of your freakin' mind to eat ANY fish out of the shipping canal in the first place so don't worry about it!

Sportfishing on the great lakes is a billion dollar industry - we all know this that fish. Most others have no idea the amount of $$ that is generated for this economy. And if/when these fish get into the lakes, the facts don't lie: they will destroy the balance because they eat everything in sight. It will mean a total break-down of the food chain in the lakes. Enjoy the salmon and perch fishing while you can off this fine city, because once these carp takeover, you won't worry too much about a 3 million bill. With our gov't folks, that $'s a drop in the bucket anyhow...

Last point: if in fact this bothers you so much, I respect that - however, aren't all these precautions being taken worth it if in fact fixing the barrier (even if temporary) will give us continued protection in the long run? Remember, the solution for government is always to throw $$ at things and create a short-term solution for the meantime. I mean seriously? Hell with the costs of it: I want my great lakes protected. I love how our society has evolved, and how we are now always so hesitant to react until the aftershocks have already occured. From war, to terrorism, to ANYTHING that involves spending money to protect people, the trickle-down effect really speaks to the zombie nature most citizens have become. Whatever happened to preventitive measures?

Stanley, I don't think I read any posts or comments that Asian carp would not impact the Great Lakes. There are a great many comments on whether the actions being taken over the course of years involved with the barrier will have any impact. And that is absolutely the concern of citizens in a democracy, whether their public money is being spent in a useful manner. There is a track record of years of utter incompetence with regard to the fish barrier.

This whole fiasco is a prime example of what passes for scientific discourse in this country. We're not quite sure what it is, but we've got some kind of problem with Asian Bighead and Silver carp escaping into Lake Michigan. Are any of you aware that Bighead carp have been documented in Lake Erie since 2000? The federal government (US Fish and Wildlife Service and Army Corp of Engineers) has known since at least 1995 that these two species of carp posed a danger to some domestic ecosystems (Mississippi River drainage basin in particular) yet they and the affected state agencies have scratched and dithered for the most part while Rome has been slowly burning. Misinformation, confusion, and just plain dumb guesswork has been the status quo approach to this problem and there is no end in sight. Will Silver carp soon be flying out of the water as the Sprit of Chicago cruises the lakefront? Not likely; Lake Michigan is not the Illinois River. Will Bighead eat all the plankton and turn the lake into a sterile sea reminscent of the '60s? Who knows? Who cares? It's science and it's too complicated for the average dimwitted mind to comprehend, so we'll go on swallowing little gems like this interesting tidbit from MSNB. Reporting on the single evil-doer carp that the rotenone got to, they don't seem to question if the diversity of fish species in the S&S canal rivals that of the Amazon basin. They must have found thousands of of previously undiscovered species!

"Department of Natural Resources assistant director John Rogner says the single fish was found Thursday among tens of thousands of other species scooped up during a kill operation in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal."

"Tens of thousands of other species". Really?Like I said...who cares?

Does anyone know what species were mainly killed along with the one bighead carp? Ive heard that quite a few shad and common carp were killed. Shad are a good bait/forage fish but killing all the common carp can be nothing but positive for any water they are in. They have been around for only about a hundred years and have altered every water they live in for the worse and account for untold millions of dollars spent on lake restoration.

Bighead carp have been documented in Lake Erie for years now. They haven't destroyed it. Just because these exotics can survive in the Great Lakes does not mean they will necessarily thrive there.

It isn't just the fear over the carp - it's over honeysuckle, microstegia, garlic mustard, and on and on. Agencies like the IDNR have a financial interest in demonizing species - then they have a reason to ask for money to kill them off. But man in general, and the IDNR and other agencies, have a poor record in attempting to manipulate nature to "do the right thing." The consequences of all of the poisons in our environment are showing in the many dozens of "dead zones" around the world. This is just the tip of the iceberg.

Nature is in a period of unprecedented change. Sure man is contributing, but man will never be successful in controlling nature. We need to learn to live with it.

No doubt that the IDNR needs to be reigned in all over the state. It's out of control with arrogant men and women who play god too often and screw up.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on December 3, 2009 11:22 AM.

Fish kill: Snapshots of beginning was the previous entry in this blog.

Fish kill: Day 2 bighead found is the next entry in this blog.

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