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Fish kill: Official wrap-up

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We haven't heard the last from this group, but here is the official wrap-up from the Asian Carp Rapid Response Workgroup of the nearly six-mile officially sanctioned fish kill on the Sanitary and Ship Canal:

Asian Carp Rapid Response Workgroup finishes operation on Cal-Sag Channel

No Asian carp collected above electrical barrier; safety zone rescinded

CHICAGO - The Asian Carp Rapid Response Workgroup has completed fishing operations near the T.J. O'Brien Lock in an attempt to locate Asian carp after eDNA sampling in the area tested positive for the invasive species. The Workgroup used commercial fishermen and federal fisheries personnel to deploy nearly 3,000 yards of fishing nets along a 5.5-mile stretch of the Cal-Sag Channel. While the nets were successful in collecting more than 800 fish, no Asian carp were found. The catch included more than 700 common carp and 10 other species.

The fishing operations that began on Dec. 1, wrapped up late yesterday, Dec. 7. On Monday evening, the U.S. Coast Guard reopened the Cal-Sag Channel and Little Calumet River to vessel traffic.

While the fishing operations and the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal rotenone application have thus far confirmed just one Bighead Asian carp, the Workgroup expects their work to continue for some time.

eDNA is serving its purpose as an early warning system and suggests that Asian carp may have reached the Cal-Sag Channel. Based on recent sampling and the fish collection efforts there, the Workgroup believes that if Asian carp are present, their numbers are likely very small. The Workgroup and its partners are committed to remaining vigilant in the future and exploring all options available to prevent the spread of Asian carp to the Great Lakes.

Among the next steps already underway to prevent the spread of the destructive fish to the Great Lakes:
• Illinois Department of Natural Resources and other partners will evaluate the week's efforts and develop options for additional carp population assessment and control in the Cal-Sag Channel and Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal
• U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will continue their eDNA sampling effort with the University of Notre Dame
• U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are focused on addressing potential bypass issues (along the Des Plaines River, I&M Canal, Grand Calumet and Little Calumet River), the interbasin study and expedited construction of barrier IIB
• The Rapid Response Workgroup partners are evaluating a range of additional options and consequences for Asian carp prevention management strategies in the waterways--and potentially, further into the Great Lakes

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, U.S. Department of Agriculture 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, New York and Canada have also provided support to the operation.

For more information about Asian carp and the Rapid Response operations, see

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Dale, I think you missed a golden opportunity here to cover this major local outdoor news event. No on the boat reporting of the fish kill with the DNR? No pictures or listing of the species found? Too busy doing other things? As far as I can tell you attended the news conference and that’s it? They killed every fish in a 6 mile stretch of the river which would have provided a perfect opportunity to not only look for invasive species, but gage the relative health of the waterway. Were there walleye and muskie? Record bass? This deserved much better coverage from and outdoors perspective, its pretty much the biggest story of the year and all we got were press releases. I’m kind of disappointed.

Buco. Yes and no. I went down on Wednesday and Thursday just to be a witness, but honestly there wasn't that much to see in the areas I could access. I posted some of those images, but there wasn't that much exciting or informative in them. News side at the Sun-Times handled most of the factual stuff. BTW, most of the images that were exciting came from a pool feed, as no one was allowed on the poisoning boats. Those pool feed images, both video and still, were universally picked up and you could see them anywhere. The species list will be coming shortly. Then more of my work will come in following up with some of the participants in the clean-up and experts' take on the species list. That's more of my job, putting it into context. But I probably could have went down another day or have taken a friend's offer up to patrol farther downstream and see if any floaters came through, but by Friday it was pretty much done. Buco, that's my accounting and I truly appreciate your push in saying I should have done more. My work is not done yet on it.

Thanks for the response Dale, I think some of the disappointment comes from not being able to attend myself. I would have paid money to see all the diffrent kinds of fish and numbers of game fish present. There was a lot of focus on the asian carp, but I felt there was a story about the fishery itself that was missed. Looking forward to your updates.

Buco, I agree. I wish there was more coverage, and hopefully someone (Dale) publishes the list of fish killed in an understandable format.
I tried to "view" the process as well. Ran into the same problem that dale did, nothing to see, and access was very restricted. I got quickly got kicked out of the staging area, as i wanted to see at least one of the dumpsters they put 200,000 pounds of fish in.

Not a very "transparent" operation.

Dale, considering your column a couple weeks ago stated that asian carp had already been caught in a couple of city lagoons, do you think there's an alternative explanation about why none were netted in the Cal-Sag and only one died in the Sanitary & Ship? Perhaps these fish are immune to the poison (perish the thought) or the fisheries guys are looking for them at the wrong time of the year?

The significance of the couple dozen Asian carp already documented in Chicago, at least in my humble opinion, is that there are multiple routes for Asian carp to spread. They are not all just advancing up from the Illinois River. As to not finding many on the Sanitary and Ship Canal, I suspect it is simply of the low concentration above Starved Rock or marseilles. The concentration in those areas is much lower, and has been for years, than that section from Starved Rock on downstream, the section made famous on TV clips and YouTube videos. That's one explanation. But that is another question that the scientists need to answer far better than they have so far. At least some of the people who have taken the public lead in this don't inspire confidence that they are looking for answers as much as they are looking for ways to justify shutting down the canal connect between the Mississippi system and the Great Lakes.

I'd like to be the first to suggest that perhaps it's time for a new feature: "Asian Carp Of The Week" and/or "A.C.O.T.W. Unplugged". Thanks.

OK, wise guy, you might get your wish. Buck of the Week: Unplugged is running low. And we have that single bighead from the great Fish Kill to start things off.

Buco, From an environmental stand point the entire canal is unnatural and man made. So it doesn't matter how healthy it is. Instead of worrying about the health of a man made channel maybe you should focus on the invasive species that would destroy river species in Michigan and Wisconsin.

Given the regulatory environment, inland shipping lobby and degree to which the CSSC is tied to Chicago area waste water management I expect canal closure about the same time as glacial rebound causes the upper lakes to drain through the Mississippi watershed. Figure 5-7000 years.

Did they ever release the eDNA results for the Chicago River? The (lack of) environmental justice is what stuck in my craw. Can you imagine a kill like that on the North Branch? It would be angry villagers with pitchforks time.

We need more a reasoned response like that presented in this excellent VDGIF video.

The US Senate is introducing legislation that prohibits Asian Carp from being shipped or imported into the United States....

Over the last few years I have noticed an increase of jumping carp near Seneca (lower Dresden pool).
It has gone from None to at least one every trip to go boating. This past summer I noticed more than ever, even in the main river and the harbor where i have a slip.

The main concentration is below Starved Rock but it is spreading and fast is a relative term..

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This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on December 8, 2009 9:39 PM.

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