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Feb 01, 2014 08:08 AM EST

Infrastructures Effective in Preventing Asian carp From Entering Great Lakes, Study

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A group of researchers from the University of Notre Dame, Resources for the Future and the U.S. Forest Service and Resources found dam-like structures to be the most effective in preventing Asian carp reaching the Great Lakes. Researchers said that placing electric barrier system, strobe lights and water cannons in Chicago waterways was found to be the next best alternative in scaring the invasive fishes away from the Lake Michigan.

The researchers found that hydrologic separation could stop 95 to 100 percent of Asian carp from accessing the Great Lakes; electric barrier could avert between 85 and 95 percent of the fishes, while a combination of sounds, bubbles and strobe lights could ward off 75 to 95 percent of carps from entering Lake Michigan.

 "An important finding of this study is that knowledgeable experts identified clear differences in the likely effectiveness of some Asian carp prevention technologies as opposed to others," John Rothlisberger, a Forest Service aquatic ecologists and one of the author's of the study, said in a press release. "Physical separation stands out from the rest as having the least associated uncertainty and the highest probability of preventing the introduction of Asian carp into Lake Michigan."

Researchers said that if Asian Carps are allowed to settle in the Great Lakes, they will slowly consume and diminish food sources of other fish resulting in death of local species.

For the study, the researchers questioned the effectiveness of different Asian carp prevention barriers with experts in fisheries management. The different prevention barriers were outlined in the Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study (GLMRIS) Report by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps). The report was submitted to the Congress Jan.6.

The report just listed eight probable scenarios for preventing Asian carp channel through the Chicago Area Waterway System (CAWS) without explaining its effectiveness.

David Lodge, director of the University of Notre Dame's Environmental Change Initiative and co-author, said that the Great Lakes can be effectively shielded from Asian Corps by understanding how each strategy might work, what are all the benefits it provides and how much does it cost.

"Here we have estimated the efficiencies of various barriers without having to wait for more barrier testing and while the fish are swimming closer to the Great Lakes," Lodge said.

The study is published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

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