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Minnesota DNR signs deal for electronic fish barrier at Ford lock and dam

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Asian Carp haven't quite invaded all the waters of Minnesota, but the headway they continue to make has the state's DNR looking into new technology to keep the fish at bay.

Hometown Source reports that the DNR has signed a deal with the engineering firm Smith-Root to design a “sweeping” electronic fish barrier at Lock and Dam No. 1 on the Mississippi River.

Unlike other electronic barriers, a sweeping electronic fish barrier would not continuously be activated, the Source reports. Officials in the past have expressed safety concerns and worry over the corrosive effect on the lock of standard electric barriers.

A meeting between Smith-Root and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials is scheduled for June 19, according to an update by Rep. Rick Hansen, DFL-South St. Paul, according to the Source.

The Source goes on to quote someone from the DNR saying there are many unknowns with the project. “I wouldn’t put much stock in this,” he said of a possible 2014 construction date.

Of course, how to deal with the invasive species is controversial and so far elusive. The source reports that the DNR believes the best way to keep Asian carp from moving upstream on the Mississippi is by closing the 50-year-old Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock in downtown Minneapolis and that U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar in May announced that her amendment allowing for closure of Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock passed the Senate.

This comes after news last week that Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn said that separating the Great Lakes and Mississippi River systems is the “ultimate solution” to prevent voracious Asian carp from overrunning the lakes.

And, as we previously reported, the carp aren't in an significant numbers in Minnesota -- yet.

Meanwhile, the Christian Science Monitor reports that a Chinese company has announced a plan to run a fishery that exports the fish to southeast Asian markets, pulling some 10,000 from local U.S. waterways each day.

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