Illinois and federal authorities announced on Thursday that Asian carp monitoring efforts will be increased in upcoming months, following an outline for a $6.5 million plan to remove the fish from the Upper Illinois River. According to a Illinois Department of Natural Resources (DNR) press release, monitoring efforts will be intensified although DNA sampling, which found trace amounts of carp DNA in Lake Michigan recently, will be cut back. While the agency recognizes the importance of DNA sampling, the three response actions conducted last year amounted to over 1,600 hours of surveillance on 27 miles of the Chicago Area Waterway System. An additional 7,500 hours of sampling was done by the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee (ACRCC) with no Asian carp seen or captured.
“This year’s Monitoring and Response Plan will focus on expanding those actions that have achieved tangible results. Over the past three seasons we have removed over 1.3 million pounds of Asian carp from the Upper Illinois River well below the electric barriers. We believe removal efforts are working to reduce Asian carp populations in Illinois thanks to the hard work and dedication of our biologists, commercial fishermen and our ACRCC partners,” said DNR Director Marc Miller.
Officials are especially concerned with the species entering the Great Lakes, which could threaten a economically vital fishing industry for the surrounding states. It is estimated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that over $5 billion is generated there annually by commercial and sport fishing.
The $6.5 million Asian Carp Monitoring and Response Plan will increase monitoring and removal efforts as well as testing new methods of control such as “water guns.” Researchers with multiple federal agencies are currently working on a three-year study that will hopefully lead to better methods of detecting and reducing the invasive species. A preliminary report has been released to help guide the efforts of this year’s plan.
Image courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service