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Dams, electricity touted to stop carp

| Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014, 9:03 p.m.

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — Placing dam-like structures in Chicago waterways would be an almost foolproof method of preventing Asian carp from reaching Lake Michigan, while a less pricey electric barrier system has solid prospects for shielding the Great Lakes from the invasive fish, according to a scientific analysis released on Wednesday.

While other studies have weighed the pros and cons of different proposals for stopping the carp, this one went further by rating their likelihood of success based on “how sure experts are about each strategy,” said Marion Wittmann, a University of Notre Dame post-doctoral researcher and the report's lead author.

The report was designed to help policymakers choose an effective plan that wouldn't take too long to carry out. It determined that other methods under consideration, such as using strobe lights and water cannons to frighten the carp away, might also be helpful but would be less likely to succeed.

The study was conducted by scientists with Notre Dame, the Forest Service and Resources for the Future, an independent research institution. Their conclusions were based on a survey of experts in fisheries management, aquatic nuisance species and other relevant topics.

They were asked to rate the likelihood for success of a variety of strategies for shutting down what's considered the most direct route to the Great Lakes for Asian carp: a network of rivers and canals around Chicago that link Lake Michigan to the Mississippi River watershed.

Bighead and silver carp, which gobble huge amounts of plankton on which many native species also subsist, were imported from Asia in the 1970s and have infested the Mississippi and its tributaries. Scientists say if they overrun the Great Lakes, they could upend the ecosystem and damage a $7 billion fishing industry.

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