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Pioneer Editorial: Stepping up efforts on Asian carp

The Obama administration on Thursday issued a strong package of actions it plans in 2011 to protect the Great Lakes from Asian carp, an important action to keep the highly invasive species from reaching the world's largest fresh water bodies.

The administration first came out with a strategy in February and then modified it in May. The new strategy goes along ways in trying to keep Asian carp from the Great Lakes. Key already is the construction a third electric fish barrier in the Chicago Waterway for extra protection in the primary path of concern for carp migration into Lake Michigan. Illinois officials have been less than cooperative in ensuring projection methods in the waterway.

A new strategy will be further refinement of eDNA as an effective tool for monitoring and tracking Asian carp through analysis and refinement of the eDNA processes to determine the number and distribution of positive detections of Asian carp. Expanded will be a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lab in LaCrosse, Wis., to increase capacity of eDNA testing in all the Great Lakes.

"The Obama administration has taken an aggressive, unprecedented approach to protect our Great Lakes and the communities and economies that depend on them from the threat of Asian carp," John Goss, Asian carp director for the White House Council on Environmental Quality, said Thursday. "This framework builds on the successes we accomplished in 2010 by leveraging our cross-government, regional coordination on immediate preventative actions and multi-tiered strategies for the longer term."

The effort is needed to keep the highly invasive species out of the Great Lakes. It has already created havoc in the lower Mississippi, as it jumps out of the water when disturbed by boat motors, posing a risk to boaters.

"From a biological standpoint we face a great challenge protecting the Great Lakes ecosystems and fisheries from invasion by the Asian carp," said Tom Strickland, assistant secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks at the Department of the Interior. "The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Geological Survey are working on the ground as part of an administration-wide intensive comprehensive strategy to stop the spread of Asian carp. This effort is unprecedented and is a major priority for the Department of the Interior."

Minnesota has two points of entry, the Mississippi River as it enters the state to the south, and Lake Superior. Both points need protecting to keep the fish from ever becoming a threat to Minnesota waters.

It should be part of the state's overall strategy for invasive species, of which there are several that threaten Minnesota.

The Asian carp, however, threatens the entire Great Lakes, and it is good to see the federal government take such a serious and strong approach.