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Asian Carp Search Comes Up Empty Near Lake Michigan

 width=The Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee (ACRCC) today detailed the results of intensive monitoring efforts in and around Lake Calumet within the Chicago Area Waterway System (CAWS) and announced no Asian carp were seen or captured during a four-day response.

The ACRCC began a Level 1 monitoring response under its Monitoring and Rapid Response Plan on Monday, August 1, after three consecutive rounds of Environmental DNA (eDNA) sampling yielded positive results for Asian carp DNA in and around Lake Calumet. 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. While the Lake Calumet area is regularly monitored for the presence of Asian carp, a level 1 response intensified efforts over a four-day period of time with commercial fishing crews, electrofishing boats, larger sweeping nets called seines, and additional sampling gear such as tandem trap nets and hydro acoustic surveys to determine whether live Asian carp were present in the area.

“Our rapid response plan did what it was designed to do – use aggressive monitoring and the best available technology to confirm there is no establishing population of Asian carp above the electric barrier. We will continue to follow our comprehensive Asian carp control strategy to aggressively monitor the Chicago Area Waterway System, ensure the security of the electric barrier, and use and develop the most advanced technologies to protect the Great Lakes from Asian carp,” said John Goss, Asian Carp Director for the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

The Lake Calumet response action concluded on August 4, 2011 after more than 1,066 person-hours on the water using a crew of 38 state and Federal agency biologists and commercial fishermen aboard 11 vessels. A variety of nets and methods were used during the operation, including gill/trammel netting, electrofishing, tandem-trap netting, and hydro acoustic surveys. In total, crews fished more than 11 miles of gill/trammel nets, eight fyke nets, and completed 22.5 hours of electrofishing. In all, 8,668 fish were collected, including large numbers of buffalo and gizzard shad , indicating that fish that share Asian carp habitat preferences were being trapped and identified.

“These crews worked tirelessly during this operation using the best fishing techniques available to try to find Asian carp. The fact that none were found further supports what we have believed for some time – if there are any Asian carp in this area above the barrier, they are there in very small numbers,” said Illinois Department of Natural resources Assistant Director John Rogner.

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