October 26, 2021

Asian Carp Debate Moves To Court

Asian carp

Asian carp

The legal battle over the invasion Asian carp moved to the courtroom on Tuesday as the reliability of genetic testing to detect the presence of the invasive species was addressed by expert witnesses.

The first witness was a biologist who discovered traces of Asian carp DNA in waterways in the Chicago area near Lake Michigan. David Lodge said that live Asian carp were the most likely source of the DNA.

Some have suggested that the carp DNA might have been transported in barge ballast water. They believe that the positive test does not necessarily mean that Asian carp are actually present. However Lodge insisted that the ballast water theory and other possibilities that have been suggested are far less plausible.

Five states that border the Great Lakes have asked a federal judge to seal Illinois shipping locks to stop the spread of the unwanted fish from the locks into the Great Lakes.  Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota believe that current efforts to stop the spread of Asian carp are effective. They believe that closing the man-made waterway is essential to keep the invasive species out of the Great Lakes.

The state of Illinois disagrees with closing the waterway claiming that dozens of businesses would be forced to close if the locks separating the waters of the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River were permanently sealed.

On Wednesday the United States’ newly appointed Asian carp czar, John Goss, stated that he understands personally the threat that Asian carp pose to the lakes and that he  will do everything within his power to stop the fish’s relentless movement past the electrical barriers that are intended to keep them in check.

However, Goss said that he has not yet formed an opinion on the proposed plan to block off the canal. He stated that he is waiting for the results of a study by the Army Corps of Engineers before deciding whether the two watersheds should be permanently separated. The study is not expected to be finalized until next year.