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Study compares merits of plans to deal with invasive Asian carp

Jan. 30, 2014 at 7:47 PM   |   Comments

SOUTH BEND, Ind., Jan. 30 (UPI) -- Scientists say they've finished a study of the effectiveness of different prevention barriers meant to keep invasive Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes.

The study by the University of Notre Dame, Resources for the Future and the U.S. Forest Service has been published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

"Our study goes beyond just presenting barrier options by putting numbers to how effective various barriers will be, including hydrologic separation and the currently operating electric barrier system" Notre Dame scientist and lead study author Marion Wittmann said.

Hydrologic separation could prevent 95 to 100 percent of Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes and an electric barrier could prevent between 85 and 95 percent of introductions, the study found.

Experts involved in the study said they were much less confident about using sounds, bubbles or strobe lights to deter the invasive fish and indicated that the failure rate could be 80 percent to 100 percent for these methods.

Still, those methods if used together could prevent 75 to 95 percent of Asian carp from entering Lake Michigan and they should not be discounted, the researchers said.

"Our goal was to quantify uncertainty, not to remove it from the decision process," study co-author Roger Cooke, senior fellow with Resources for the Future, said.

On Jan. 6 the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers submitted to Congress the Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study Report, which outlined eight possible scenarios for preventing Asian carp passage through to the Great Lakes.

The report provided no comparative evaluation of the options, but did indicate developing infrastructure to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes could take decades and cost $15 billion or more.

"Protecting the Great Lakes from invasive species eventually comes down to understanding how effective a management strategy may be, how much it will cost and what the benefits of those options are," David Lodge, director of the University of Notre Dame's Environmental Change Initiative and study co-author, said. "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."

Topics: Notre Dame
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