Study Links 6 Positive ‘eDNA’ Tests to Presence of the Invasive Species in Lake Erie
Washington DC- Today, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) announced that he has sent a letter to Jo-Ellen Darcy, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, urging the Army Corps to take action on Asian Carp in wake of a new study that connects Asian Carp to the Great Lakes.
“The Great Lakes are a major driver of economic growth in Erie and throughout Northwestern Pennsylvania. The presence of Asian Carp could have negative consequences for the Great Lakes and job creation in Erie,” Senator Casey said. “The findings of this new study should move the Army Corps to take a more aggressive role in protecting the Great Lakes.”
The study, published earlier this month in the Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, used eDNA to indicate the presence of Asian Carp in the Great Lakes. In eDNA testing, traces of DNA extracted from environmental samples are used to determine if a certain type of fish have been in the vicinity.
The presence of Asian Carp in the Great Lakes could have serious impacts on the region’s economy and natural resources. Due to this, Senator Casey called on the Army Corps to accelerate its ongoing study of ways to improve eDNA testing and develop a probabilistic model to predict the most likely origin of the eDNA.
The full text of the letter can be seen below:
The Honorable Jo-Ellen Darcy
Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works
Dear Secretary Darcy:
On April 4, findings from a study on the use of environmental DNA (eDNA) for detecting Asian carp were published in the Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences. The researchers found that “the most parsimonious and plausible explanation of the geographical distribution of the positive [eDNA] detections reported here is that the presence of eDNA most often indicates the presence of live Asian carp.” This finding is concerning because 58 positive eDNA detections have been found above the electric barrier in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, and 6 positive detections have been found in Lake Erie.
While the researchers also found that if live Asian carp are present in the Great Lakes, they are likely at low numbers and are unlikely to have established a self-sustaining population, this finding does not diminish the concerning verdict that live Asian carp may well be present in the Great Lakes.
We understand the Corps does not agree with all of the findings in this report, in particular that the positive eDNA results are likely not indicating the presence of live Asian carp since the intensive fishing and netting efforts have not recently uncovered any live Asian carp. Even though the extensive monitoring has not recently uncovered any Asian carp above the barrier, the results are of serious concern because at a minimum they could in fact indicate the presence of live fish.
We are aware the Corps is studying ways to improve eDNA testing and to develop a probabilistic model to predict the most likely origin of the eDNA (i.e., whether it comes from a live carp or through secondary channels). The Corps has reported that this study is expected to be completed in September 2014. Understanding the origin of the eDNA is truly vital, and we urge you to accelerate this study.
Thank you for your attention to our concerns.
Carl Levin, Debbie Stabenow, Amy Klobuchar, Sherrod Brown, Bob Casey, Richard J. Durbin