Fishing Between Barges?
BY STEFAN PETERSEN, CARTERVILLE FWCO
During the last year and a half, Carterville Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office (FWCO) and US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE)-Chicago District have performed a number of tests to determine fish reactions to the electric barrier within Chicago’s Sanitary and Ship Canal (CSSC). Due to barges occasionally pushing fish into the electric field, all projects have required a great amount of ingenuity to attach devices in front of, or between barges for investigative purposes.
Previously, Carterville FWCO recorded fish reactions to the electrified area by entrapping fish in pens fastened to barges and videotaping their behavior. Another test conducted, involved attaching floats to gizzard shadand deploying them in various open spaces throughout the barge configurations. The most recent experiment added another degree of complexity by not only releasing float-tethered gizzard shad, but also attaching a gill net horizontally between the barges being pushed through the electric barrier.
In order to complete this task, members of Carterville FWCO and USACE – Chicago District devised a system of ropes and weights used for attachment. First, ten pound weights were connected along the lead line of the gill net to keep it taut against the current. Then another rope was connected to the float line using carabiners. This rope was strung up to several cleats on the barges to support the gill net. After the gill net was hung from the barge, more ropes were connected from the ends and middle of the gill net’s lead line to keep it upright as the barge was pushed upstream.
After the net was deployed, the design proved to be successful. No problems were discovered when the barge moved upstream, great data was collected and the experiment was conducted safely. More opportunities for creative work like this looks to be in the future for Carterville FWCO, as study of the electric barrier continues.