CHICAGO Feb 23 U.S. officials declared on
Thursday that no Asian carp had reached the Great Lakes and
promised to spend $51 million on new strategies aimed at keeping
the invasive fish out, such as a water gun to drive them back
and a sex pheromone to lure males to their deaths.
"This strategy builds on the unprecedented and effective plan
we've been implementing since 2010 to keep Asian carp out of the
Great Lakes while we develop long-term solutions," said John
Goss, who coordinates the effort led by the White House Council
on Environmental Quality.
This year's effort to keep the carp at bay stands in
contrast to the position of several Great Lakes states and many
environmental groups that demand a permanent ecological
separation of the Great Lakes from the Mississippi River
watershed, where the carp are found. About $51 million would be
spent this year to keep the carp back, a council official said,
while nearly $200 million has been spent altogether on the
The objecting states and environmentalists argue the carp
will make their way up through manmade waterways near Chicago
and decimate the lakes' $7 billion fishery.
Asian carp can weigh as much as 100 pounds (45 kg) and
environmentalists fear their voracious appetites could threaten
the food chain for other aquatic life.
Commercial shippers, tour boat operators and recreational
boaters industries want to keep the waterways open, and argue
separating the two watersheds could cause flooding problems.
A recent Great Lakes Commission study identified three
multibillion-dollar alternatives to separate the two watersheds
while maintaining ship traffic and preventing flooding. Goss
said the findings will be looked at and will flow into the U.S.
Army Corps of Engineers' own study of the best ways to keep carp
out of the Great Lakes.
Silver and bighead carp have been found within 55 miles of
electric barriers erected in a connecting waterway near Chicago.
Reproducing carp populations are 150 miles away from the
barriers, said Charlie Wooley of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
The federal program includes electrofishing, netting, and
water sampling to look for environmental DNA shed by the carp.
So far, there have been no Asian carp spotted in the lakes since
three were taken from Lake Erie a decade ago, Wooley said.
"This is probably the most heavily sampled body of water
anywhere in the world," Wooley said.
The U.S. Geological Survey was experimenting with a water
gun that fires a high-energy pulse of water to drive fish away,
which could be employed when the electric barriers are turned
off for maintenance, said the agency's Dr. Leon Carle.
Scientists also are working on extracting a sex pheromone
from female carp that could be used to lure isolated males that
manage to enter forbidden waters so they could be killed, Carle
Another technique under development is a selective poison
encased in a "nano-particle" targeted at the carp's digestive
systems, Carle said.
Asian carp dominate broad sections of the Mississippi River,
the lower Missouri River, the Ohio River and the Illinois River.