“If we don’t close the locks, we are waving the white flag and allowing one of the greatest ecological tragedies to occur,” Jennifer Nalbone, campaign director of Invasive Species and Navigation for Great Lakes United told the Wall Street Journal. But John W. Peabody, Commanding General of the Great Lakes and Ohio River Division of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said before a decision can be made to shut the locks the details must be worked out with industrial users of the passageway. Really, the “industrial users” get such a large say when we are talking about the potential devastation of a $7 billion sport fishing industry from which this region benefits? Does anyone remember the sea lamprey and Lake Erie?
Some are telling us not to panic, that it is still not too late because they doubt the fish have reached the lake.
“As a biologist and somebody who has spent decades now studying many different kinds of invasive species, we should not assume all is lost because there may be some silver and bighead (carp) above the barrier,” Notre Dame’s David Lodge told Dan Egan. “There are lots of cases, well documented from many parts of the world, where a small number of organisms may invade new areas, but they may die out before they establish a sustainable reproducing population. So it’s very important to keep the numbers of individual organisms as low as possible.”
So what is the plan? The Army Corps is going to go ahead with its poisoning of the Chicago Canal just below the barrier so that they can then shut down the barrier for maintenance. They say they are thinking about poisoning above the barrier too. Officials also told reporters that they will think about changing the way they run the locks near the shoreline of Lake Michigan. And if all else fails they can always sterilize the Carp just as they did the lamprey.
Until then, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency is planning to send electric volts into the water where the DNA was found and stun the fish so that they can net them. Unbelievable, how did we get here?
Could it be that the many federal and state agencies that are supposed to work in concert to protect the Great Lakes have failed because they are too numerous and too competitive? That is what some are saying. Dave Dempsey is arguing we should use the failure to keep the carp at bay as a catalyst for a new way of doing the business of restoration by streamlining the Great Lakes bureaucracies via a Presidential Executive Order that makes it clear who is in charge in such a Great Lake emergency and for long-range restoration efforts.
Not bad – anyone else have any ideas to ensure this sort of debacle doesn’t ever happen again?