Federal government attempting to keep Asian carp out of Great Lakes

The Federal government has given the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee an increased budget, in an attempt to keep the invasive fish out of the Great Lakes.

But some scientists say it’s a battle the federal government simply cannot win.

Charlie Wooley is Deputy Regional Director of the carp committee. He says that’s not the case, and he believes the new 60-million dollar budget will ensure the fish do not make it to the Great Lakes.

Dominic Trimboli spoke to the Wooley about his hopes for the new budget.

Wooley
Recently the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee released our 2016 field work guidelines. What we’re going to be doing is putting increased effort into the Chicago area waterway system, particularly in the Army Corps of Engineers electrical barrier. To make sure we do everything possible to keep Asian Carp out of Southern Lake Michigan.

Trimboli
Alright, there’s just under about 60 million dollars coming to the project, can you tell me a little bit about what that money is going to be used for, and is that also an increased rate from previous years.





Wooley
Yes, there’s additional money going to the army corps of engineers from 2015 and 2016 to increase the electrical capacity and capability of their electrical barrier that they operate in Romeoville, Illinois. They’re in the process right now of putting in a whole new electrical array at that barrier that provides redundancy, making it more even more efficient, more effective at keeping carp from getting past that barrier and into Lake Michigan. Also we’re expanding the money available to produce new technology. We have a new piece of field gear that has an electrified net that’s on the bow of a boat that we’re going to use to sample small asian carp in backwater areas. So we’re seeing increased money going to those types of activities.

Trimboli
If you don’t mind I’m going to play devil’s advocate here, a lot of the scientists i’ve talked to have said we’re fighting a battle that we can’t win with this. What do you have to say to that?

Wooley
No, I completely disagree. This is an effort that’s using the best science and technology to keep these fish out of the Great Lakes. If we hadn’t had the effort that’s underway right now to net out these fish in certain areas on the Illinois waterway system. It would have put a lot of pressure on the army corps of engineers electrical barrier, that would not have been good. So right now we are keeping fish out of the great lakes, we’re also stopping potential areas along the Great Lakes such as Eagle March in Indiana that could potentially be a transfer site. The Mississippi Basin into the great lakes, we’re keeping carp out of that area with the increased effort. We’re optimistic that we’re going to be able to keep carp out of the great lakes with this combined state federal NGO effort that we have going on right now.

Trimboli
Alright and is that why you guys are increasing the efforts right now as far as funding and the other small projects that you’re going to be doing, to ramp up this?

Wooley

Absolutely, we do not want to see Asian Carp get established in the Great Lakes, Dominic. We are doing absolutely everything possible to make sure that doesn’t happen. We have great minds working on this, we have great coordination between the 8 Great Lakes states and the federal government working on this issue. We have engineers that are the best in their field studying this, making adjustments and changes to make sure we keep them out of the Great Lakes. We’re succeeding right now and there’s no reason we can’t continue to do that long out into the future.

Trimboli
Alright, changing things to a bit more positive topic, what is one of the things that makes you happy about this?

Wooley
The on the ground field based effort that’s out there. We have a lot of biologists and scientists that are actually out on the Illinois waterway system on a daily basis. It may be one of the most studied body of water in the United States right now because we have constant monitoring and surveillance. Illinois department of Natural Resources is paying commercial fisherman to fish back and commercially catch these fish out of the Illinois water system. That’s a tremendous help. That field based eyes and ears out there on the water, out there on the landscape is really impressive and I’m very proud of that.

This is one of the best coordinated activities that I’ve ever seen in my federal government career. Which is at about 38 years right now. We’re all focused on the same goal. Keeping asian carp out of the Great Lakes. Being focused on the same goal has really united us, allowed us to bring all this expertise to the table, it’s very impressive, and it’s going to help us keep carp out of the Great Lakes.

Trimboli

Alright, thank you so much Charlie! Have a great day.

Wooley

Glad to help Dominic, best of luck with your story.