Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee to Begin Intensive Monitoring in Lake Calumet in Response to Environmental DNA Results

Chris McCloud
Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee to Begin Intensive Monitoring in Lake Calumet in Response to Environmental DNA Results
CHICAGO- The Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee (ACRCC) today announced intensive monitoring action will begin in Lake Calumet and surrounding areas on Monday, August 1, after three consecutive rounds of Environmental DNA (eDNA) sampling yielded positive results for Asian carp DNA.  The ACCRC�s 2011 Monitoring and Rapid Response Plan calls for a Level 1 response to three consecutive rounds of positive eDNA results in one area.  While Lake Calumet is regularly monitored for the presence of Asian carp, a Level 1 response adds commercial fishing crews as well as additional electrofishing boats, larger sweeping nets, called seines, and additional sampling gear to the area during an intensive four day fishing period.

At present, eDNA evidence cannot verify whether live Asian carp are present, whether the DNA may have come from a dead fish, or whether water containing Asian carp DNA may have been transported from other sources, such as bilge water.  The monitoring response is designed to intensify resources and use the best available technology to search for live Asian carp in the Lake Calumet area.  Eight previous monitoring trips to Lake Calumet since March 2011 have identified 4,500 fish and indicated no Asian carp presence. 

�Finding three or more consecutive sets of positive eDNA samples in the same area triggers us to use significant resources to try to find a physical specimen,� said John Goss, Director of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. �Through the ACRCC�s comprehensive Asian carp  control strategy, we remain vigilant both in monitoring to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes, and also in investigating all possible sources of Asian carp DNA to minimize the human transfer element such as people unknowingly using Asian carp as bait or other activities that could transfer them to the Great Lakes.� 

Biologists from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources will be on the water with commercial fishermen and biologists from Southern Illinois University and the Illinois Natural History Survey beginning Monday, August 1 through Thursday, August 4.  The crews will lay various net types throughout the Lake Calumet area, including half-mile long seine nets to sweep large portions of the area.  Electrofishing boats will sample fish in shoreline areas and will be used to drive fish towards the nets.  Commercial and private vessel traffic will be able to proceed with minimal interference from the monitoring activity. 

Three separate eDNA samples sets were taken at Lake Calumet between June 15 and July 19 and revealed 11 positives (all Silver carp DNA) out of 328 samples taken.  

Asian carp monitoring and response activities are Federally funded through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and Federal agency budgets.  The ACRCC is following a set of protocols in the 2011 Monitoring and Rapid Response Plan (MRRP) which outline specific circumstances that would trigger one of three different response levels.  The MRRP can be found on the ACRCC�s website at

The threat from Asian carp has generated an urgent and committed government response.  In addition to aggressive monitoring and sampling, the ACRCC has proactively worked to contain Asian carp in the Chicago Area Waterway System by constructing a third electric barrier in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, constructing a 13-mile physical barrier along the Des Plaines River to prevent fish bypass during flooding, and researching control technology and methods that can be tailored and applied to control Asian carp.

The Obama Administration also remains focused on preventing Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes through all possible pathways.  The ACRCC released an �Other Pathways� study in December 2010 to identify and close off other potential aquatic pathways where Asian carp could enter the Great Lakes basin; constructed a 1,500 foot fish barrier fence at Eagle Marsh in Indiana to prevent fish from migrating from the Wabash River into the Great Lakes watershed; and continues to develop the Great Lakes Mississippi River Interbasin Study to assess threats throughout the basin, including in the CAWS.

The Obama Administration formed the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee in 2009 to ensure coordinated and comprehensive action against Asian carp. The ACRCC is led by the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and includes the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation and all eight Great Lakes states, as well as the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, and the City of Chicago. 
For more information on the 2011 MRRP, 2010 actions, or to view the entire 2011 Asian Carp Control Strategy Framework, visit:

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