Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Asian Carp: DNA Evidence Finds Something Fishy near Lake Michigan

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Asian Carp: DNA Evidence Finds Something Fishy near Lake Michigan

Article excerpt

The failure of a recent expedition to find any invasive Asian carp near Lake Michigan - though DNA traces say they are there - has shipping interests claiming victory and others calling foul.

A multi-agency search for Asian carp in the Chicago waterway system this week yielded no specimens of the invasive fish.

Shipping interests are declaring victory, saying the results vindicate their conviction that the fish has not entered Lake Michigan. However, opponents say a wealth of DNA evidence collected over three years shows their presence at least as conclusively as producing an actual fish.

In the past two months, 11 positive DNA samples have pointed to the presence of the invasive species, prompting the search. Since 2009, 85 samples have tested positive. To date, only one Asian carp has been found: a 19-pounder fished out of Lake Calumet, a small lake located 6 miles upstream from Lake Michigan, in 2010.

On Monday, the four-day search of Lake Calumet began, carried out by commercial fisherman and a team of biologists from the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the US Army Corps of Engineers, the Illinois Department of National Resources, and Southern Illinois University.

On one side of the debate, shipping interests want the waterways to flow freely, so barge traffic can cruise from Lake Michigan to the Mississippi River. On the other side, a coalition of biologists, sports fishermen, and governments of neighboring states all worry that the Asian carp threatens the fragile ecosystem of the Great Lakes and endangers commercial and recreational fishing and tourism.

A legal battle in federal court, spearheaded by Michigan but with support from Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, is fighting to permanently close two shipping locks in Illinois, between Lake Michigan and the Mississippi River. Their goal: Block any chance of an Asian carp swimming into the lake from the river, where they are known to live. …

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