CHICAGO (AP) — The electric barrier designed to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes may need more voltage to stop the smallest of the invading fish, according to a report issued Friday by the Army Corps of Engineers.

Small carp won’t be stopped by the current voltage used at the barrier on the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, officials said.

Tiny carp aren’t near the barrier yet, so the power doesn’t need to be raised immediately, Corps officials said. The agency will conduct more research before a final decision on the barrier is reached, said Maj. Gen. John Peabody, the Corps’ division commander for the Great Lakes.

Turning up the voltage could pose safety risks to barges and others near the canal, officials said.
“We will continue to assess and validate this information and are prepared to make changes to the operating parameters as evidence warrants,” Peabody said in a news release.

State and federal officials have long waged a battle against Asian carp, which have steadily migrated up the Mississippi River and threaten to invade the Great Lakes.

Bighead and silver carp, Asian varieties that escaped decades ago from Southern fish farms and sewage plants, have migrated northward and reached the canal, which connects the Mississippi with the Great Lakes. Scientists have found Asian carp DNA in water samples taken from Chicago-area rivers and canals.

Asian carp could starve out competing fish and threaten the $7 billion commercial and sport fishing industry, biologists say.

The Corps believes the current barrier, about 25 miles south of Lake Michigan, can keep out carp larger than 5.4 inches.

But lab experiments showed that carp between about 2 to 3 inches in length weren’t stopped by the same voltage used at the barrier. Tiny carp might not absorb enough current to be stopped, officials said. Bighead carp, the kind used in the tests, can eventually grow past 5 feet.

The tiny carp aren’t an imminent threat because the nearest carp of the size in the tests were more than 100 miles from the barrier, officials said. Carp populations that could reproduce were about 25 miles away.

The lab tests suggest that an increase in voltage, from 2 volts per inch to 2.3 volts, might be needed at the barrier. But increased power could endanger barges moving flammable items across the canal, said Ernie Drott, the chief of the Corps’ Great Lakes program support division.

Peabody said more research would be needed to confirm the lab results. “The laboratory cannot replicate the scale or the scope” of the barrier, he told reporters Friday.

A larger report on the barriers is expected to be released later this year.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (9)
  1. la de da says:

    Do we honestly think our government is going to be successful at stop them? Let the finger pointing begin!

  2. gtV says:

    Take the preventive measures now–increase the voltage and put up a newer modern barrier further upstream/canal from the present one. Don’t wait until you find the Asian carp menace has gotten past the present barrier. Be pro-active not reactive.

  3. Tinman says:

    Can you say “Delaying the Inevitable”?

    Resistance is futile! Prepare to be assimilated!

  4. gml says:

    Carp are smart. They’ll make it through.

  5. Human Bean says:

    we just gotta eat em! smoked carp, mmmmmmmmmm

  6. mark from says:

    They are coming no matter what we do. Someone must have an idea on how to cook, smoke, or sell them to the markets. Thats your free million dollar idea for the day

  7. Pete says:

    So you told us the voltage per inch, but what is the total voltage used? This story seems to be missing the one item that would make it complete and informative. The wording in this story makes it sound like each fish is measured then just the right volts-per-inch is applied to each fish. Is that really how it works?

  8. Jerry says:

    I would like to ask how much do you know about the Asian carp.
    I would like to find out who I can talk to about this subject about get rid of them.
    I will take them all if I was funded, large company in your area.
    Price of funding for company $100 million no pay back.
    starving out $700 billion dollars a year plus jobs
    Company would be built around the word (GREEN ) every angle in green would be applied to this company.
    Employment in company may produce around 100 to up 1000 employees besides contractor to build many different areas in this company.
    I would need to have land around 100 to 300 acres.
    Company growth in ten years may employee up to 10,000 employees if not more. there other arears I would do that would benfit your area, Funding is needed. Pass the word out or you can keep it to your self and watch the goverment take it away million at a time. Keep the game fishing active, fund this project. You will be please. I will be waiting for comments. So about spelling and etc.
    Thank you

  9. Jerry says:

    I thought that these carp swim through contaimed water in areas or I thought the river bottom contain toxic waist
    If this true why would anybody would eat them.
    I herd that the people in other areas of the world are eating these carp from the USA Illionois channels. I would think that these people coulf come down with Cancer from contained carp. If this would happen and then they might come here to live. State health care. This sound like a tax cost to the USA in the future??????
    Thank you

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