Interview: Asian Carp

  • Asian Carp can weigh up to 100 pounds and are notorious for jumping out of the water and injuring boaters. (Photo courtesy of the US Fish and Wildlife Service)

The US Supreme Court has turned
down a request from Michigan and
other Great Lakes states. They
wanted the locks in a canal to
be closed immediately. That man-made
canal artificially connects the
Mississippi River system and the
Great Lakes. For now at least,
those locks will stay open to cargo
traffic. This fight is all about
a fish, a type of Asian Carp, that
many people don’t want to get into
the Great Lakes. Lester Graham
spoke with David Jude about the
threat of the fish. Jude is a
research scientist and fish biologist
at the University of Michigan:

Transcript

The US Supreme Court has turned
down a request from Michigan and
other Great Lakes states. They
wanted the locks in a canal to
be closed immediately. That man-made
canal artificially connects the
Mississippi River system and the
Great Lakes. For now at least,
those locks will stay open to cargo
traffic. This fight is all about
a fish, a type of Asian Carp, that
many people don’t want to get into
the Great Lakes. Lester Graham
spoke with David Jude about the
threat of the fish. Jude is a
research scientist and fish biologist
at the University of Michigan:

Lester: We keep hearing if this fish gets into the Great Lakes system, it will be devastating for the ecology of the lakes, ruin the commercial and recreational fishing. What is it that all these people think this Asian Carp fish will do to the Great Lakes?

David Jude: Well, I am sure they all watch the video where the fish are jumping out of the river, in the Illinois River, and harming some biologists and some people that are there.

Lester: Smacks them in the head!

David: Yes, so they are very concerned about that. And then biologists are concerned about the fact that they have taken over the river there, they are very voracious feeders, and so they have really crowded out a lot of other fish in the river. So there are a lot of things that are going on with regards to impacts on humans as well as impacts on fish communities that we certainly don’t like.

Lester: And these are big fish, they are up to 100 pounds.

David: Exactly.

Lester: There’s this electric barrier in place in the canal that is supposed to prevent these Asian Carp from swimming from the Mississippi River into the Great Lakes. Environmentalists say that there’s still too much of a risk, too many scenarios where the fish could get through because of flooding or some other scenario, and that canal should be closed. The Obama Administration is fighting that, the state of Illinois if fighting that, they say we need that open. There’s barge traffic carrying steel and rock and gravel and grain, all of this seems to be coming down to money. Is money the right measure when we’re looking at this situation?

David: No, it’s not. I mean traditionally, we’ve gone into the, a lot of these decisions are made and the environmental costs are not taken into consideration. The costs of having that canal open are going to be very very high and, uh, and you have to balance it against what the sport fishery and the commercial fishery is the Great Lakes is going to be because once they get in there it’s going to be a very detrimental impact on them.

Lester: This fish is knocking at the door, we’re not even sure it’s not already in, so, is there a certain inevitability that this fish is going to be in the Great Lakes and we should just start making plans to deal with it?

David: Well, I don’t think it’s inevitable and I think if we did stop them and somehow were able to shut down the Chicago Ship and Sanitary Canal and prevent that avenue, we’d go a long way toward preventing them from coming in. The other avenue for them getting in, of course, is people that like to eat them and they might bring them in and stock them. So, I think we should be doing everything we can right now to stop them, I mean this is our opportunity to do that. But, the other part of it is, because they’re so close, and because as you know there probably could be some in the Lakes already, you know, we should be prepared to have some plans on what we might want to do to try to, you know, focus on some of these optimal spawning sites and see what we can do to keep their populations down there.

Lester: David Jude is a research scientist and fish biologist at the University of Michigan. Thanks for coming in!

David: Oh, my pleasure.

Related Links

Asian Carp Update

  • Charter boat captain Eric Stuecher says Asian Carp will likely ruin his business. (Photo by Jennifer Guerra)

A big monster of a fish is at
the center of a US Supreme Court
case. Asian Carp are making their
way up the Mississippi towards the
Great Lakes. Michigan’s Attorney
General filed a lawsuit asking the
Court to close a Chicago canal in
order to keep the carp out. The
shipping industry says, ‘no can do.’
Jennifer Guerra has
a closer look at what’s at stake:

Transcript

A big monster of a fish is at
the center of a US Supreme Court
case. Asian Carp are making their
way up the Mississippi towards the
Great Lakes. Michigan’s Attorney
General filed a lawsuit asking the
Court to close a Chicago canal in
order to keep the carp out. The
shipping industry says, ‘no can do.’
Jennifer Guerra has
a closer look at what’s at stake:

There’s one way to look at this as a purely economic story. In one corner you’ve got the people who ship cargo by water.

“Lynne Munch, senior vice president regional advocacy of the American Waterways Operators.”

She says, if the Illinois is forced to close two of the locks in the Chicago canal permanently, more than 17 million tons of cargo will have to be shipped by truck instead of barge, and hundreds of jobs will be lost.

“One company alone has reported that they will lose 93 jobs next year if the locks are closed. One of our towing companies estimates they’ll lose more than 130 jobs if the locks are closed.”

In the other corner, you’ve got the seven billion dollar tourism and fishing industries.

“Oh hi, I’m Eric Stuecher, I own a company called Great Lakes Fishing Charters.”

Stuecher takes people out on the Great Lakes and in rivers across Michigan. Salmon, Trout, Perch, you name it, he’ll help you fish it. But if the invasive Asian Carp get into the Great Lakes?

“It would probably cost me the business. They’ll eat anything they can get in their mouths, to the demise of so many of our other game fish.”

So that’s the economic side of the story. But what if we told you there’s more at stake here than dollars and cents.

“In terms of environmental impact, the Asian carp have the potential to seriously disrupt the Great Lakes ecosystem.”

That’s Marc Gaden with the Great Lakes Fisheries Commission. He says there are already a lot of pests in the Lakes.

“There are 180 non-native species in the Great Lakes, many of which came in accidentally. Precisely two of them can be controlled. That’s it. So that’s why biologists and others are very, very concerned about the Asian carp. Once they get in, the cat’s out of the bag.”

Asian Carp were first brought to the states by Southern catfish farmers. The carp escaped the South in the 1990s because of flooding and have been making their way north ever since. These fish are huge. They can grow to four feet and weigh up to 100 pounds, and they reproduce like crazy. In some areas, they reproduce so much that by weight they account for more than 90 percent of the fish in the Mississippi River system.

So you can see why people around the Great Lakes don’t want them.

That’s why Gaden and a lot of other scientists say we should somehow block the man-made canal that connects the big rivers to the Great Lakes for barges carrying cargo.

“We need to be open to saying, just because we’ve been moving goods on the canal by barge for decades and decades, doesn’t mean we need to continue to do it that way. Is there a better way to do it? Can we shift it to rail?”

Gaden and others have been arguing for 15 years to get some kind of permanent barrier built in order to stop invasive species from moving from one ecosystem to another.

“The government agencies that are responsible for doing things on that canal are not moving at the speed of carp, they’re moving at the speed of government. And we don’t have a minute to spare.”

That’s because new DNA tests suggest that Asian carp have moved well beyond the electric barrier meant to keep them out of Lake Michigan.

For The Environment Report, I’m Jennifer Guerra.

Related Links

Paddling Through Pollution

  • Dredgers, a group that gets together to canoe on the Gowanus, hope that if people see the state of the canal, they'll be inspired to help clean it up (Photo by Samara Freemark)

A group of New Yorkers is trying
to convince people to get out on one of
the most polluted bodies of water in the
country – literally out there, in canoes.
Samara Freemark reports that they hope once
people see the water up close, they’ll
realize just how dirty it is. And maybe
then they’ll help clean it up:

Transcript

A group of New Yorkers is trying to convince people to get out on one of the most
polluted bodies of water in the country- literally out there, in canoes. Samara
Freemark reports that they hope once people see the water up close, they’ll realize
just how dirty it is. And maybe then they’ll help clean it up:

(sound of water, paddling)

You wouldn’t believe the stuff people have pulled out of the Gowanus Canal.
Refrigerators. Bathtubs, rusted cars. A 5000 pound dead whale. A suitcase full of
human body parts. Sewage floods into the canal all the time. So you see everything
people flush down their toilets. The water itself is a sickly, opaque green.

And that’s just the stuff you can see. The canal used to be a dumping ground for the
factories that line it. And the sediment at the bottom is still full of a laundry list of
toxic chemicals: cyanide, mercury, lead, asbestos. Scientists found strains of
gonorrhea in a water sample just last year.

And I’m sitting in a canoe in the middle of it.

(water noise, “Ewww, oh, God, gross. It’s like a subway down here.”)

The Gowanus is a 2 mile long trough of murky water that flows into the New York
Harbor – though the word ‘flowing ‘ is a bit optimistic, since the water mostly just sits
there.

You wouldn’t think anyone would want to canoe in this kind of water – much less
see it as a good way to spend a lazy summer afternoon.

(Laughs.) “ My first day was like, hell no. I knew it was going to be nasty.” (Laughs.)

That’s Alex Kovaleski. She’s a Dredger, a member of a group that gets together to
canoe the Gowanus.

“But I’m always looking for an adventure or a way to see things from a new
perspective, so I went out. And then I started having dreams about it, and it was all
over.”

Kovaleski knew she had to do something.

So almost every summer weekend she and the Dredgers gather at a makeshift pier
and paddle up and down the canal.

They invite others along. Anyone who shows up can jump in a borrowed canoe and
take it for a paddle. They get a lot of first-timers, New Yorkers who have heard about
the trips and come for the novelty or to get a taste of nature in this most urban of
cities.

That’s why Stephen Kline and Beatrice Aranow came. This is their first time at a
Dredgers event. I speak with them on the pier, before they step into a canoe. They
say they came because they love nature, they love being out on the water, and they
want to see their city from a whole new perspective.

Stephen and Beatrice are in for a big surprise. Twenty minutes later, they had their
new perspective.

(talking over each other) “ There were like dead rats, turds. It was a lot worse than I
could have ever imagined. It wasn’t that mysterious. I actually thought I was going
to have a pleasant time going out but it was pretty intense. It was repulsive.”

This doesn’t sound like a ringing endorsement of the Dredgers.

But Alex says Stephen and Beatrice’s reaction isn’t that bad – it’s actually kind of the
point.

“Part of it is just being out there with the poop and the trash, like, hah, here it is,
there’s no getting away from it. When you’re in it, you’re naturally longing to see it
restored.”

A week later I came back to the Gowanus canal for another Dredgers event. This
one’s a cleanup day, and volunteers are out with rubber gloves and bags, picking up
trash. It’s kind of a festive scene- there’s music and free pizza. And there’s a group of
high schoolers who came to spend the day canoeing and helping out.

(students talking about canoeing, cleaning)

Alex says those students are who the Dredgers really want to reach. The Gowanus
isn’t going to be clean anytime soon. But those kids are going to grow up, and they’re
going to be tax payers and voters. Soon they’re going to make the decisions that
decide the future of the canal.

For The Environment Report, I’m Samara Freemark.

Related Links

Ten Threats: Southwest After Great Lakes Water?

  • This billboard was displayed along several major highways in Michigan. The sponsors were hoping to raise awareness about water diversion, but do these arid states really pose a threat to the Great Lakes? (Photo courtesy of Central Michigan Life )

We’re continuing our series on the Great Lakes. One of the Ten Threats to the Great Lakes that experts identified was water withdrawals. Our guide in this series, Lester Graham, says the next report looks at one of the myths of water withdrawals:

Transcript

We’re continuing our series on the Great Lakes. One of the Ten Threats
to the Great Lakes that experts identified was water withdrawals. Our
guide in this series, Lester Graham, says the next report looks at one of
the myths of water withdrawals.

Environmentalists and policy makers say a thirsty world could pose a
major threat to the Great Lakes. Water wars have been predicted in arid
parts of the globe, and some say the laws of supply and demand might
one-day lead to a raid on the region’s fresh water. Reporter Mark Brush takes a
closer look at one claim: that states in the southwest will one day come
after the Great Lakes water… and finds that it might just be H2O hype…


Taking water out of the Great Lakes is a hot button issue, and no one is
more aware of this than politicians looking for votes. In the 2004
campaign, President Bush used the issue to rally a crowd in Traverse
City, Michigan:


“My position is clear. We are never going to allow the diversion of
Great Lakes water.”


(Sound of applause)


The issue taps into people’s emotions. People get outraged when they think
of someone taking water out of the Lakes – especially when they’ve seen lake
levels dropping over the years, and the region’s political leaders have listened
to those concerns. The states and provinces that surround the world’s largest fresh
water system are working on a compact that will prevent water diversions.


But where is the threat to Great Lakes water coming from? We
conducted an informal poll on the streets of Ann Arbor, and we asked
people: “who wants water from the Great Lakes?” Six out of the ten
people we talked to pointed to the west:


(Sound of street)


“Las Vegas, the Southwest.”


“Probably the dry states in the West. Arizona, Nevada.”


“I think the west should keep their damn hands off our water.”


But do the arid states in the West really pose a threat to Great Lakes
water? It turns out – this same question was asked more than twenty
years ago.


In the 1980s, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers studied the possibility of
moving Lake Superior water to the Missouri River. It’s a distance of
about six hundred miles. Farmers in the High Plains states were hoping
to use this water to irrigate their crops.


Jonathan Bulkley is a professor of civil and environmental engineering at
the University of Michigan. Bulkley and his colleagues analyzed this
diversion plan, and he says the whole project would have been too
expensive:


“We found it would take seven 1000 megawatt power plants dedicated to
lifting the water, because water needs to be lifted to reach these distant
locations, and in addition there would have to be conveyance structures
built to transport the water, and our conclusion was the total cost would
far exceed the value of the water.”


In other words, Bulkley found that it would be cheaper for these states to
find other sources of water – or to find ways to conserve the water they
had left, and this was a diversion of only 600 miles. A diversion all the
way to the Southwest would mean piping the water almost twice that
distance.


“We are always looking for extra water – everyone in the Southwest is
looking for extra water.”


Bob Barrett is a spokesperson for the Central Arizona Project. It’s one of
the biggest water suppliers in the Southwest. The Project pulls water
from the Colorado River and delivers it to southern Arizona. Barrett
says he can’t imagine a situation where Great Lakes water is pumped for
more than a thousand miles to the Colorado River:


“Most people don’t realize it, but a gallon of water weighs about eight
pounds, and if you’re going to push that up and over the Rocky
Mountains you’re going to need a lot of power. (Laughs) So, it’s a good
idea, but I don’t see how anybody could pay for it.”


But some observers say even though it might not happen today – it could
happen in the future. They point to a fast-growing population and a fast-
dwindling fresh water supply in the southwest. They say that
combination could drive engineers and policy makers to devise a way to
get Great Lakes water.


But Barrett says for states like Arizona, California, and even Texas – it
would be cheaper for them to build desalinization plants… these plants
convert ocean water into drinking water:


“I mean why should Texas build for a canal and then have to maintain it
from the Great Lakes down to the state of Texas when they can go to the
Gulf Coast and build several desalinization plants, and then just pipe it
wherever they need it?”


So, a large-scale water diversion to the southwest seems unlikely.
Experts say water from the Great Lakes is much more likely to go to
cities and towns right on the edge of the basin, but as legislators move to
tighten restrictions on diversions – even these places will
have a hard time getting access to the water.


For the GLRC, I’m Mark Brush.

Related Links

Ten Threats: Predicting New Invaders

  • Some say it's only a matter of time before the Asian Carp enters the Great Lakes. (Photo courtesy of the USFWS)

More than 160 kinds of foreign creatures are in the Great Lakes right now, and every few months, a new one finds its way into the Lakes. Those invasive species are considered the number one problem by the experts we surveyed. The outsiders crowd out native species and disrupt the natural food chain, and it’s likely more will be coming. Zach Peterson reports scientists are putting a lot of time and effort into figuring out which new foreign creatures might next invade the Great Lakes:

Transcript

There are new problems for the Great Lakes on the horizon. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham is our guide in a series that explains that new invasive species are one of the Ten
Threats to the Great Lakes:


More than 160 kinds of foreign creatures are in the Great Lakes right now, and every few months, a new one finds its way into the Lakes. Those invasive species are considered the number one problem by the experts we surveyed. The outsiders crowd out native species and disrupt the natural food chain, and it’s likely more will be coming. Zach Peterson reports scientists are putting a lot of time and effort into figuring out which new foreign creatures might next invade the Great Lakes:


(Sound of boat motor)


Jim Barta is a charter boat captain just above Lake Erie on the Detroit River. He says over the last decade, zebra mussels and other foreign species have altered the habitat of the walleye he fishes for.


Water that once had a brownish hue is now clear. That’s because Zebra mussels have eaten the algae and plankton that used to cloud the water, and that means Barta’s boat is no longer invisible to the fish he aims to hook.


“You could catch the fish a little closer to the boat because they weren’t as spooked by the boat. They weren’t as afraid of what was taking place.”


So Barta had to rethink his tactics. He now casts his lines out further, and he’s changed lures to continue catching walleye.


But there are other problems the zebra mussel is causing. Eating all the plankton means it’s stealing food at the bottom of the food chain. And, that affects how many fish survive and how much the surviving fish are able to grow.


Anthony Ricciardi is trying to help Barta, and other people who rely on a stable Great Lakes ecosystem. He’s an “invasion biologist” at McGill University in Montreal.


Ricciardi looks for evidence that can predict the next non-native species that might make it’s way into the Great Lakes. He says species that have spread throughout waterways in Europe and Asia are prime candidates to become Great Lakes invaders.


“If the organism has shown itself to be invasive elsewhere, it has the ability to adapt to new habitats, to rapidly increase in small numbers, to dominate ecosystems, or to change them in certain ways that change the rules of exsistence for everything else, and thus can cause a disruption.”


Ricciardi says most aquatic invasive species are transported to North America in the ballast tanks of ocean freighters. Freighters use ballast water to help balance their loads. Some of the foreign species hitchhike in the ballast water or in the sediment in the bottom of the ballasts.


Ships coming from overseas release those foreign species unintentionally when they pump out ballast water in Great Lakes ports. Ricciardi says one of the potential invaders that might pose the next big threat to the Great Lakes is the “killer shrimp.” Like the Zebra Mussel, it’s a native of the Black Sea.


“And it’s earned the name killer shrimp because it attacks invertebrates, all kinds of invertebrates, including some that are bigger than it is. And it takes bites out of them and kills them, but doesn’t necessarily eat them. So, it’s not immediately satiated. It actually feeds in a buffet style: it’ll sample invertebrates, and so it can leave a lot of carcasses around it.”


Ballasts on cargo ships aren’t the only way foreign species can get into the Lakes. Right now, scientists are watching as a giant Asian Carp makes its way toward Lake Michigan. It’s a voracious eater and it grows to a hundred pounds or more.


This non-native fish was introduced into the Mississippi River, when flooding allowed the carp to escape from fish farms in the South. A manmade canal near Chicago connects the Mississippi River system to the Great Lakes.


If it gets past an electric barrier in the canal, it could invade. Many scientists believe it’s just a matter of time. Another invasive, the sea lamprey, also got into the Great Lakes through a manmade canal.


But, researchers don’t usually know when or where an invader will show up. David Reid is a researcher for the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory in Ann Arbor. He says they can’t predict the effect an invader will have when it arrives in its new ecosystem.


“That’s the problem. We don’t know when the next zebra mussel’s going to come in. We don’t know when the next sea lamprey type of organism is going to come in. Generally, if you look at the invasion history of the Great Lakes, you’re seeing about one new organism being reported probably about once every eight months.”


Knowing what the next invader might be could help biologists, fisheries experts, and fishermen know what to do to limit its spread. Invasional biologists hope that their work will help develop the most effective measures to limit harm to the Great Lakes.


For the GLRC, I’m Zach Peterson.

Related Links

Bubble Barrier Tweaked for Asian Carp

  • Scientists are always looking for a new deterrent for the Asian Carp. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

Scientists across the region are expanding their arsenal of technology to fight invasive species. One research team hopes to use sound and bubbles to keep an invasive fish out of the Great Lakes. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Shawn Allee has more:

Transcript

Scientists across the region are expanding their arsenal of technology to fight invasive species. One research team hopes to use sound and bubbles to keep an invasive fish out of the Great Lakes. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Shawn Allee has more:


For years, biologists worried Asian Carp could enter Lake Michigan through a canal near Chicago. The Army Corps of Engineers is building an electric barrier at the canal to block the carp’s progress.


But researchers at Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant are devising a back-up plan. Researcher Mark Pegg says new devices could shoo fish away with bubbles and sound.


“The bubbles themselves are causing a lot of turbulence in the water that the fish don’t like. On top of that, they’re emitting a really loud noise, at least to the fish anyway, so that’s sort of a one-two punch.”


Pegg says the combination of bubbles and sound works in another way too. Bubbles actually amplify underwater noise, so sound travels further. The Sea Grant team will continue testing the devices. In the meantime though, even if it works, the project might hit a roadblock: the existing barrier program has no extra money for the system.


For the GLRC, I’m Shawn Allee.

Related Links

Boat Nerds: The New Tourists

  • Ship-watchers gather at places such as the Welland Canal which allows cargo ships to go around Niagara Falls. (Photo by Lester Graham)

They look like birdwatchers. They stand with binoculars and notebooks and write down names. Or they travel to good spots for up-close viewing. But it’s not birds they’re looking for. They’re looking for ships. And they’re passionate about the huge boats that pass through the Great Lakes. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Melissa Ingells has a look at the pastime of
ship-watching:

Transcript

They look like birdwatchers. They stand with binoculars and notebooks and write down names. Or they travel to good spots for up-close viewing. But it’s not birds they’re looking for. They’re looking for ships. And they’re passionate about the huge boats that pass through the Great Lakes. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Melissa Ingells has a look at the pastime of ship-watching:


(Sound of sing-song shouting)


If you’ve ever been to the shores of the Great Lakes, or to the canals connecting some of the lakes, you’ve probably seen ship watchers. They’re the people with binoculars, trying to spot the name on a freighter’s hull.


It could be the romance of the sea, or a fascination with the storms or shipwrecks; something grabs people about it. Maybe it’s just because some Great Lakes ships are so huge. These kids on the St. Mary’s river near Sault Ste. Marie are trying to get the captain of a Great Lakes freighter to blow his whistle for them.


(Sound of horn, cheering)


Now, that’s big.


Sault Ste Marie isn’t the only seaway people visit to see the ships up close. At the other end of the lakes, in Thorald, Ontario, Ross McGimpsey watches the freighters. He’s come all the way from Northern Ireland to Lock Seven of the Welland Canal. He’s interested in the locks’ engineering, and in the size of the ships.


“I just came to see how they went up and down the locks, and to see how big it is and what it was like. You don’t really see this stuff when you go to Scotland, there sort of really small, just taking up, like little speedboats, but over here it’s full-sized ships, so it’s really different.”


McGimpsey’s one of the many people who travel for good ship-watching. Around the lakes, a cottage tourism industry has sprung up to serve the watchers. Terry Dow sees a lot of the tourists that come to the Welland Canal. She works at the locks viewing area in Thorald. Dow loves to talk to visitors about the ships.


“I love the ships. My office window is just, looks out here at lock 7, and you know, you can be typing away and there’s nothing in the lock and within ten minutes you have this huge ship in front of your window and I really enjoy them. My favorite is the John B. Aird from Algoma, she’s a great ship and I love watching her come through the locks, she’s also one of the largest ships that can come through, the biggest can come through is 740 feet, and I just like watching her come through. I love it here.”


Dow is a lucky ship-watcher; she works close to her hobby. She says some folks have actually moved to the area just to watch the ships. They call themselves the “boat nerds.”


“We have a lot of people here that live in Thorald that have retired from other areas, Toronto for instance, and they come because they love the ships so much, they buy a house along the canal and they are proud to be the “boat nerds” and they volunteer for me every day here in Thorald at the locks viewing complex.”


So, where do people like Dow and the boat nerds get their passion for the ships? Part of it is that people are just plain fascinated by the size of the vessels.


Lou Ann Kozma thinks many people first get interested in ship-watching because they hear some of the popular songs and stories about Great Lakes ships. Kozma organizes festivals in mid-Michigan that celebrate Great Lakes lore.


She brings in people who sing songs of life on the Lakes, tell stories of shipwrecks, and even make wooden models of the big boats people like to watch. Kozma says once a good ship story gets a person’s interest, they usually want to know the real facts behind the tales.


“In general, things like popular culture does romanticize it quite a bit like the Edmund Fitzgerald song, and perhaps shipwrecks, in particular hold that mystique, because ,there’s such a dramatic story, usually, behind each one, and then there’s the lure of just finding out about what happened, and people can discover that in so many different ways.”


Kozma says people find that ship-watching is another way to feel the adventure and romance of the lakes. Back at the Welland Canal, Terry Dow says even though she sees the ships every day, she and people like her never get tired of watching them.


“There’s a lot of people who love these ships. They love the magnitude of them. I’ve named them the “Quiet Giants of the Waterway,” because you can’t even hear them coming into the lock, and they’re so big that you just can’t believe that something of that magnitude you can hardly hear coming into the locks. So, there’s a lot of people, yes, who truly enjoy these ships.”


It seems like the romance of the Lakes and the marvel of engineering are what draw “boat nerds” to the water. And the number of ship watchers might be growing. Earlier in the day, Terry Dow spent time with a whole busload of folks who scheduled their stop just in time to see one of her Quiet Giants glide by right in front of them.


For the GLRC, I’m Melissa Ingells.

Related Links

New Bill Aims to Ban Asian Carp Imports

  • A new bill would make the prevention of the spread of Asian carp a higher priority. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

A new bill in Congress aims to ban the importation and possession of a fish that threatens the Great Lakes. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Chuck Quirmbach reports:

Transcript

A new bill in Congress aims to ban the importation and
possession of a fish that threatens the Great Lakes. The Great
Lakes Radio Consortium’s Chuck Quirmbach reports.


Biologists say if Asian carp ever get into the Lakes, the fish would do major
damage to aquatic life.


Even though the carp are already in some Midwest rivers, several states ban people from importing or having the fish. Wisconsin Republican Congress member Mark Green says the ban needs to be nationwide.


“There are some areas that don’t have Asian carp now. So by
banning the importation we at least hopefully stem the flow while we
take other steps.”


Steps like making sure a new publicly funded carp barrier is finished in a canal southwest of Chicago. A bill Green has introduced would add four types of Asian carp to a list of destructive species currently banned under federal law.


Green expects opposition from parts of the aquaculture industry. It’s generally thought that the Asian carp first entered Midwest rivers when they got away from fish farms during floods.


For the GLRC, I’m Chuck Quirmbach.

Related Links

Carp Barrier Works Out Another Snag

  • Some worry that the carp barrier could pose a safety hazard to watercraft. (Photo by Louis Rock)

Two federal agencies say they’ve worked out safety problems that might’ve caused delays at a new electric barrier designed to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Chuck Quirmbach reports:

Transcript

Two federal agencies say they’ve worked out safety problems that might’ve caused delays at a new electric barrier designed to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Chuck Quirmbach reports:


There’s already one underwater barrier at a canal south of Chicago and a second set of electrical cables is being installed. The shipping industry has been worried about the barriers causing safety problems like electrical arcing between vessels. The Army Corps of Engineers and Coast Guard have been working with the private firms and have come up with recommendations to reduce the risk of danger. The suggestions include no mooring, passing, or stopping near the barriers and using wire rope to prevent barges from separating. Coast Guard commander David Fish says the plan should work.


“We think we have something. You get enough people… working on a project… get enough people all wanting the same solution and engineering-wise, we’re able to find a solution.”


But Fish says there are no firm guarantees the second carp barrier will be ready this spring, before the first barrier wears out.


For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Chuck Quirmbach.

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Asian Carp Barrier Not Enough?

  • A new electric barrier is being built, but some worry that flooding might help Asian carp to sneak past it into the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal (photo courtesy of USGS)

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is building a nine million dollar electric barrier to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes. But now the Corps is warning the fence in Romeoville, Illinois, might not be enough. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lynette Kalsnes reports:

Transcript

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is building a nine million dollar electric barrier to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes. But now the Corps is warning the fence in Romeoville, Illinois, might not be enough. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lynette Kalsnes reports:


The Army Corps is building the electric barrier in the Chicago Sanitary & Ship Canal. But the Des Plaines River runs near the canal, and it often floods in the spring. Chuck Shea is the project manager for the Army Corps of Engineers. He says they might need to build a flood wall or levee so high waters can’t sweep fish past the new barrier.


“It’s possible that water from the Des Plaines River could run into the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal. And if it was a large enough flood and there were fish in the right place, they might be able to use that as a pathway to enter the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal.”


Shea says while this possibility is unlikely, it still will be an important issue to study down the road. He says the more pressing concern is that an existing temporary barrier could wear out before construction on the permanent barrier is finished.


Asian carp have been spotted about twenty miles downstream from the electric fence. The giant fish are considered a threat to sport and commercial fishing. Shea says state officials are working to find money for the last phase of the electric barrier project.


For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Lynette Kalsnes.

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