ODNR, USGS collaborate on grass carp study

COLUMBUS — The Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Geological Survey collaborated on a recent USGS study on the origins of grass carp caught in the Lake Erie basin.

The study analyzed four grass carp provided by commercial fishermen to ODNR from Ohio’s Sandusky River and concluded through bone analysis that the fish were at least one year of age and likely produced through natural reproduction in the Lake Erie basin.

Grass carp eat aquatic vegetation, and there is concern that should the species spread, they could impact fish and waterfowl habitat.

The ODNR Division of Wildlife is actively engaged in discussions with all major parites. They include: Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, USGS, Great Lakes states, as well as Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and the province of Ontario.

Through discussions, the parties hope to determine the next actions to address knowledge gaps about grass carp population status in the Great Lakes, evaluate risk from this species, and the potential to develop integrated pest management strategies.

Getting them right

Grass carp are considered an Asian carp but should not be confused with bighead and silver Asian carp. Bighead and silver carp are threatening to invade the Great Lakes from the Mississippi River Basin, and extensive effort is directed at closing the connections between these basins.

Bighead and silver carp compete with native fishes for microscopic plankton and compromise the quality of sport fishes. Grass carp have been stocked across the United States. since the 1960s. Feral (wild) grass carp have been documented from numerous locations in the Great Lakes and Lake Erie since the mid-1980s, but ploidy status (sterile versus fertile) has not been tested until recently.

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