Duluth news briefs: Voracious fish, ballast rules and mining delays

Bob Kelleher
Bob Kelleher
MPR Photo

Voracious invasive fish may be headed to Lake Superior

Federal officials announced Friday they had found Asian carp DNA on the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal.

An electric barrier was supposed to stop them, but the presence of DNA suggests it didn't. If they get into Lake Michigan, nothing could stop them getting into the other Great Lakes.

These carp are huge and hungry. They can eat 40 percent of their weight every day, reaching over 4 feet long and over 100 pounds. And silver carp tend to jump when startled, actually injuring some boaters.

The carp have already moved into the Illinois river, after winding all the way up from Arkansas. Both silver and big head carp have been detected.

Officials say will continue efforts to stop the carp migration at the electronic barrier. In December they will double the power into the fence.

Since they don't actually have a carp body above the barrier, there is a small chance the fish are not actually there. But that doesn't sound likely.

Meanwhile, researchers with Fish and Wildlife are looking into ways to control their population if they do reach the lakes.

New regulations aim to stem spread of other invasive species

Wisconsin has set tough new standards designed to keep invasive species from stowing away in the ballast water of ships.

The standards for salt water ships will be 100 times greater than either in Minnesota's ballast permits or under International standards. Until then, ships will have to use best management practices to limit living things from moving around in ballast.

Wisconsin will being enforcing a ballast permit next year, although they won't begin enforcing stringent requirments until 2014.

Minnesota's ballast standards don't kick in until 2016, but they'll affect both salt water ships and lakes.

Mining project delayed

Franconia Minerals announced last week they are delaying the start of their proposed underground mine. Franconia intends to mine for copper and other metals underneath Birch Lake.

The company said last week it was having trouble raising money for the project. They they still hope to complete a pre-feasibility study in the 3rd quarter next year; and then to proceed with environmental permitting. But they won't be actually mining until late 2014.

The company may be waiting to see what comes of the PolyMet mining project, which has just completed its Environmental Impact Statement.

Once the comment and review process is done on PolyMet's EIS, PolyMet can apply for mining permits. Franconia probably wants to see whether PolyMet gets permits before starting that long and expensive process.