Decision soon on closing lock to stop Asian carp

Officials are considering closing a vital Chicago shipping waterway temporarily as they try to stop the increasingly invasive Asian carp from making their way to the Great Lakes.

Cameron Davis, the Great Lakes adviser to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency told the AFP that discussions were currently underway on shutting down the O’Brien Lock. This is to enable crews to poison part of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal to kill the giant carp.

Before a final decision, officials will first complete their search for the Asian carp and conduct several tests along the canal to identify their location.

Authorities are trying to take every measure possible to ensure the voracious carp do not reach Lake Michigan. If they do, the Asian carp could possibly starve out smaller and less aggressive fish. This will cause the $7 billion-a-year Great Lakes sport and fishing industry to collapse. However, closing the lock could also disrupt movement of millions of tons of iron ore, coal, salts, grain and other goods.

The O’Brien Lock is not open for commercial vessels as the US Coast Guard set up a safety zone in its search for Asian Carp, said the American Waterways Operators. If the Lock remains closed for a longer period, it could lead to higher shipping costs, as commodities switch to transport on land by truck or train.

The carp, which can grow up to four feet long and weigh 100 pounds, sometimes leap out of the water when boats are nearby. Last week, environmentalists hit the panic button when they caught a single Asian carp during a fish-kill operation. It was the closest sighting of the carp so close to Lake Michigan. Officials believe the carp have bypassed an electrical barrier on the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal.