November 18 , 2002

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Agencies take Emergency Action to defend against Asian Carp Invasion

Emergency Funds Made Available to Protect the Great Lakes from Large, Invasive Fish

   CHICAGO, IL-Three United States federal agencies, the International Joint Commission, and the Great Lakes Fishery Commission have joined together to defend against an invasive species threat to the Great Lakes region by providing emergency funds to help prevent the spread of Asian carp. The funds were made available to supply backup power hardware for an electrical barrier on the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal. This barrier is the first-and currently, only-line of defense against the Asian carp. These fish are extremely prolific, rapidly advancing their way up the Mississippi River toward the Great Lakes via the canal and threatening the biological integrity of the Great Lakes. The hardware will ensure that a power outage will not allow these carp to invade the Great Lakes. This action marks an unprecedented level of speed and cooperation by agencies and stakeholders as they respond in real time to the migration of this invasive species.


   "The Great Lakes benefit millions of Americans and Canadians who rely on them for food, water, recreation, and livelihoods," said Ambassador Mary Beth West, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State. "If Asian carp migrate into the Great Lakes, they could significantly threaten this shared natural resource." Purchase and installation of backup power hardware for the electrical barrier is expected to cost $300,000. The USEPA provided $150,000 and the Corps of Engineers contributed in-kind services amounting to $50,000. Working through the IJC and the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, the US State Department provided $170,000 last August to assist in efforts to combat the carp migration, $100,000 of which will be applied to the purchase backup power hardware.


   Asian carp are a significant threat to the Great Lakes because of their size, fecundity, and ability to consume large amounts of food. Asian carp can grow to 100 pounds and up to four feet long. They are well-suited to the climate of the Great Lakes region, which is similar to their native Eastern Hemisphere habitats. It is expected they would compete for food with the valuable sport and commercial fish. If they entered the system, they could become a dominant species in the Great Lakes.


   Two species of Asian carp-the silver and the bighead carps-escaped into the Mississippi River from southern aquaculture facilities in the 1980s and significantly expanded their range during large floods in the early 1990s. Steadily, the carp have made their way northward, becoming the most abundant species in some areas of the Mississippi, out-competing native fish, and causing severe hardship to the people who fish the river. The Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal connects the Mississippi River to the Great Lakes. The canal feeds into the Des Plaines River; currently, the carp are in the Des Plaines River, approximately 50 miles from Lake Michigan.

   G. Tracy Mehan, III, Assistant Administrator for Water at the EPA, stated, "The specter of large, prolific Asian carp in the Great Lakes has motivated our coalition of government agencies to act swiftly. We have learned from hard experience the environmental and economic havoc caused in the Great Lakes by aquatic invasive species such as zebra mussels, sea lamprey, and round gobies. The latest threat from Asian carp underscores the serious problems posed by invasive species and the urgent need to prevent further introductions. The Great Lakes simply cannot afford another aquatic invasion."


   "Fortunately, we do have a first line of defense against the Asian carp invaders," said Brigadier General Steven R. Hawkins, commander of the Great Lakes and Ohio River Division, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. "In April, 2002, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completed construction of an electrical fish barrier. The barrier was designed as a demonstration project to study the effectiveness of preventing migration of species between the Mississippi and Great Lakes watersheds. The barrier uses electricity to repel fish and hopefully will prevent fish passage. Because the barrier relies on electricity, we were concerned that a simple power outage could allow Asian carp to sneak past. The emergency funds from the federal and binational partners have allowed the Corps to purchase the backup generator we need to ensure an unbroken supply of power to the barrier." To date, silver and bighead carp have not been sighted upstream of this barrier.


   Agencies and stakeholders will continue to work to prevent the migration of Asian carp and other invasive species through the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal. Partners in this effort include: Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, Commonwealth Edison, the Council of Great Lakes Governors, the Dispersal Barrier Advisory Panel, the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, the Great Lakes Sport Fishing Council, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, the International Joint Commission, the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, Midwest Generation, the Mississippi Interstate Cooperative Resource Association, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Wisconsin Sea Grant, and other state, nongovernmental, and academic partners.



Great Lakes Fishery Commission, Contact: Marc Gaden, 734-662-3209 x. 14

International Joint Commission, Contact: Frank Bevacqua, 202-736-9024

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Contact: Lynne Whelan, 312-353-6400 x1300

U.S. Department of State, Contact: Karla Heidelberg, 202-647-0241

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Contact: Phillippa Cannon, 312-353-6218


Canadian boaters face new regulations

   Canadian recreational boat operators of craft under 4-metres (13 Ft) are now required to provide proof of competency according to the Canadian Coast Guard. The new rule went into effect September 15.

   The second phase of the Competency of Operators of Pleasure Craft Regulations is now in effect, which requires anyone operating a motorized recreational vessel under 4-metres in length to carry proof of competency, without which operators may be issued a ticket or receive a summons to appear in court, according to the Coast Guard.


   The new regulations came into effect three years ago and are being phased in over a 10-year period. Proof  of competency indicates that a person has the basic level of knowledge to operate a vessel safely and can be acquired in one of the following three ways:

►  A boating safety course prior to 1 April 1999

►  A Pleasure Boat Operator Card issued after the successful completion of a Canadian Coast Guard accredited test

►  A completed and signed rental boat safety checklist (for power-driven rental boats)

   The first phase of the program, in effect since 15 September 1999, requires boaters born after 1 April 1983, to carry a proof of operator competency with all boaters having to comply with this requirement on 15 September 2009, according to the Coast Guard.

   With nearly 200 people dying in boating accidents each year in Canada, the Canadian Coast Guard said it would like to see precautions similar to those taken in automobiles by requiring boaters to take a course, obtain an operator card, prohibit use of alcohol and carry appropriate equipment in case of emergency.

Coast Guard returns to Chicago lakefront

   Security concerns following last year's terrorist attacks helped drum up the support necessary for the Coast Guard's return to the Chicago lakefront. The quarters it left in 1968 now will be rehabilitated or rebuilt, officials announced late last month..

   Despite the reasoning behind the new plan, boaters are likely to benefit from the move, as 75% of boating traffic on Lake Michigan takes place near downtown Chicago.

   Until the 1960s, the Coast Guard had four stations: Calumet

Harbor, Jackson Park, downtown and Wilmette Harbor.

Currently, the nearest Coast Guard resources for Lake Michigan rescues in downtown Chicago are in Burr Ridge, Waukegan and Calumet Harbor.   The closest one is located in Burr Ridge,  at least 45 minutes inland from Navy Pier. Not exactly an ideal location for a CG rescue station, said  Capt. Ray Seebold, Capt of the port.

   City, state and federal governments will kick in $2 million each to the project, slated for completion in 2004. The upgraded facility will also post Chicago police marine officers and the Illinois Conservation Police, who currently use the old station.

U.N. fishing agreement not enough

Not protecting at risk species from over harvest

   Bureaucrats at the World Summit on Sustainable Development hailed an agreement to protect marine populations from commercial trawlers and to replenish vulnerable fish stocks by 2015. But some conservation groups said the agreement does not offer real protection to many at risk species.  Biologists said the target date might be adequate for fish species that reach maturity in a few years, but it is too far in the future to fully protect shark, tuna, swordfish, orange roughy, and other species that reproduce slowly and take up to 40 years to grow to full-size.


   Fisheries worldwide are under intense commercial

pressure, and the prospect of popular species going extinct — at least from markets and restaurant menus — has become a real possibility. The U.N. estimates three-quarters of the world's fisheries are either fished to their limits or beyond.


   A 1995 U.N. treaty regulating trawler activity on the high seas has failed to protect important migratory species, officials said. Fleets from a few nations — most notably Russia, Spain, and Japan — prowl the open oceans and distant coastlines.  Their operations have been compared to the clear-cutting of forests – but without any plan for rehabilitation.

New tri-state Doppler radar site

   The NOAA National Weather Service has announced the purchase of land for its new state-of-the-art Doppler weather radar that will help protect a significant portion of the Tri-State area of southeastern Illinois, south-western Indiana and northwestern Kentucky. NOAA purchased land near Owensville, Ind., where it will supplement the Weather Service's national Doppler radar network and improve detection of low-level severe weather in the area.

House OKs money for Great Lakes cleanup

   The U.S. House, by voice vote on Sept 6, approved legislation for $50 million annually for five years to clean up the Great Lakes' 31 Areas of Concern (AOCs), and the toxic sediments on rivers and lakes connected to them. The bill will make the money available to 31 AOCs, via the USEPA, that are entirely or partially in the United States. Rep. Vernon Ehlers, R-Grand Rapids, the bill's sponsor, is confident the bill will be approved by the Senate.

Funds to Clean Up Contaminated Sediments

Senate committee approves Great Lakes bill

   A bill that would authorize $260 million over five years to clean up contaminated sediments in the Great Lakes was approved by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Sept. 26.


   The Great Lakes Legacy Act (H.R. 1070) would address the 43 areas of concern(AOC).  Specifically, the legislation would authorize $50 million a year in fiscal years 2003-2007 in grants for monitoring and remediation projects for the "areas of

concern." Another $2 million per year is authorized for research into technologies to clean up the sediments.

   The Great Lakes Legacy Act (H.R. 1070) would address the 43 areas of Concern(AOC).  Specifically, the legislation would authorize $50 million annually for five years to clean up the Great Lakes' 31 AOCs.  Another $2 million per year is authorized for research into technologies to clean up the sediments. Earlier, the U.S. House, by voice vote on Sept 6, approved similar legislation.

Forest Service upholds BWCAW motor plan

   The U.S. Forest Service has upheld a plan by the Superior National Forest that will increase daily motorboat permits on some lakes on the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. The agency's regional office in Milwaukee backed the plan to allow increased permits on three chains of lakes on the periphery of the BWCAW to give easier access to cabin owners and resorts.


   Environmental and conservation groups that oppose the plan still have the option of trying to stop the plan by filing suit in federal court. The plan will provide more day-use motor permits on the Moose-Newfound-Sucker, Birch-Farm and Saganaga-Gull Lake-Sea Gull River chains that include lakes on the edge of and in the BWCAW where small motors still are allowed.


   Superior National Forest officials who oversee the BWCAW said the increase in permits will make up for a drop in accessibility -- especially for property owners and resorts on those lakes -- after a 1999 federal court ruling. That court ruling ended a longstanding exemption for property owners on the chains. Until then, they could use motors on connected lakes without permits.

   Since the 1999 ruling, the exemption has been limited to only the lake on which the person owns property, not connected lakes. That has forced hundreds of property owners to compete with other boaters and anglers to get access to the chain of lakes through a limited number of permits.

   Under the plan, permits would increase from 2,376 to 6,892 on the affected lakes. All of the permits will be available to anyone; permits will not be set aside for the residents on the lakes whose use was previously exempt.

Forest Service officials say the increase in permits will not increase overall motor use but will restore use to the level before the 1999 court decision. That level of use, and the total number of permits, still is governed by the 1978 federal law that set BWCAW boundaries and rules, including setting overall use in 1976-78.


   The groups that appealed the plan include the Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness, the Sierra Club Northstar Chapter, Superior Wilderness Action Network, American Lands Alliance, Minnesota Canoe Association, Minnesotans for Responsible Recreation and Kevin Proescholdt.


   Other groups in favor of increased motorized access also filed an appeal saying the plan didn't provide enough permits. 


   A copy of the Forest Service plan and environmental analysis is available on the Web at or from any Superior National Forest office.


Report calls for quitting coalition of fish nations

DFO says it is weighing document closely

   The House of Commons Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans says Canada should withdraw from the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization because of foreign overfishing on the Grand Banks.


   In a report presented to Robert Thibault, minister of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, in June, the committee recommended “That the Government of Canada inform NAFO

and its contracting parties that Canada will withdraw from NAFO

and proceed with the implementation of custodial management on the nose and tail of the Grand Banks and on the Flemish Cap no later than one year following the September 2002 NAFO meeting.”


   "NAFO is clearly not working as it is presently structured," Earle McCurdy, president of the Fish, Food and Allied workers Union, said.

New PETA employee notorious for promoting violence

Our own domestic terrorism – right in back yards

   The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) added to its payroll an activist who has advocated arson and firebombing in the name of animal rights.


   Recently, PETA hired Gary Yourofsky to become the organization’s National Lecturer. According to an open letter from Yourofsky, PETA plans to have him tour the nation to lecture educators and students.

   As founder of Animals Deserve Adequate Protection Today and Tomorrow (ADAPTT), Yourofsky advocated violent acts when he told other activists,  "Do not be afraid to condone

 arsons at places of animal torture." He also picketed businesses, chained his neck to the axle of his car, was arrested at least 10 times and spent 77 days in a maximum-security detention center ― all in the name of animal rights.


   The Toledo Blade recently reported that Yourofsky has a large tattoo of himself on his arm, wearing a hood and "displaying” the symbols of the Animal Liberation Front (ALF)" ― a group known by the FBI as one of the most active domestic terrorist organizations.  Yourofsky also noted that if an "animal abuser" were killed in the process of burning down a research lab, “I would unequivocally support that, too.”

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