Jan 19, 2010

The interstate carp fight continues


Today, we're seeing a flurry of activity involving the suit filed by Michigan, four other states and a Canadian province against Chicago/Illinois regarding Asian Carp and the Great Lakes.

The stakes are impressive:  The Great Lakes is home to a reportedly $7 billion commercial fishing industry (think salmon and trout), which could be damaged by the potential Asian Carp infestation.  On the other hand, the suit seeks closure of the link between the Mississippi River basin and the Great Lakes, which will likely cause far reaching economic concerns for much of the country.

First came word the US Supreme Court handed down a one sentence ruling rejecting Michigan's request for a preliminary injunction to close the locks until a more permanent solution could be found.  The ruling didn't go far enough to shed light on the court's reasoning.

About two and half hours later, it was announced environmental DNA (eDNA) of Asian Carp have been found in Lake Michigan.  eDNA is genetic material that floats around in the water and by testing for eDNA a scientist can reach conclusions about the species likely to be present.  Samples collected December 8th in Calumet Harbor tested positive for Asian Carp eDNA.  According to Dr. David Lodge, director of the eDNA project at the University of Notre Dame, the positive tests provide "indications of likely presence, but it does not yet provide infomation about Asian carp quantity that may be present, age, size, how they got there or how long they may have been there."

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