On December 10 the Ohio River Asian Carp Task Force released a draft management plan for comment outlining steps to prevent the Asian Carp from spreading up the Ohio River from its confluence with the Mississippi River to its headwaters in Pittsburgh.
The Plan involves the efforts of resource agencies in 15 states, including Illinois, Indiana, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, New York, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia.
In late November, tests by officials in West Virginia have confirmed DNA (eDNA) from Asian Silver Carp has been found in two water samples collected from the upper Ohio River between Wheeling, VW and Pittsburgh.
The tests found eDNA in one Pennsylvania sample taken from the Ohio River in Aliquippa, Beaver County, about six miles upstream of the confluence with the Beaver River. A second positive eDNA result was found in a West Virginia sample near Chester in Hancock County. None of the samples tested positive for bighead carp.
Researchers use eDNA analysis as a tool for the early detection of Asian carp, which include silver and bighead carp. The findings indicate the presence of genetic material left behind by the species, such as scales, excrement or mucous. But eDNA does not provide physical proof of the presence of live or dead Asian carp.
The Draft Plan
The introduction to the Plan says, “Immediate, coordinated, and systematic actions are needed to impede the continued spread of Asian carp and to minimize their impacts on aquatic resources, resource users, and economies dependent upon a health Ohio River basin ecosystem.
“The Ohio River Basin Asian Carp Management Plan will emphasize communication, research, and implementation of Asian carp removal efforts at their leading edges and where they are currently established.
“The Plan will be essential not only as management tool, but also as a notice to our congressional leadership that there is a large contingency of agencies and non-governmental organizations that are working together to address the Asian carp issues.
“The Task Force has developed an Action Plan with specific recommendations for Early Detection, Rapid Response, Prevention and Deterrence, Population Control, and Communication and Coordination to achieve long-term success.”
Click Here for a copy of the draft management plan. Comments on the Plan are due to Jeff Ross, Assistant Director Fisheries Division, Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources by February 1. Comments may be email to: firstname.lastname@example.org or he can be contacted by calling 502-564-7109 ext. 4466.
In May the U.S. Senate has passed bipartisan legislation supporting the implementation of an Asian Carp management plan offered by Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), but the U.S. House has yet to consider similar legislation.
Impact Of Asian Carp
Dr. Tim Schaeffer, Director of Policy and Planning at the Fish and Boat Commission, told DEP’s Citizens Advisory Council last year it was not a question of if, but probably when, Asian Carp are found in Pennsylvania waters if strong steps are not taken to prevent their entry into the Commonwealth. Click Here for a copy of his presentation.
He said Asian carp have had a devastating impact in the Mississippi River system and now pose this threat to the Great Lakes basin. As an aquatic invasive species, these fish do not naturally occur in Pennsylvania waters and would only occur if transported and released.
These carp species are a threat due to their large size-- some can grow to more than 100 pounds and five feet in length, reproductive success, habitat damage and large, year-round food consumption. In additon, silver carp, when startled, can jump up to 10 feet out of the water striking boaters, causing severe injury.
Schaeffer said in rivers where Asian Carp have taken hold up to 80 percent of the biomass of the aquatic environment is made up of these invasive species which would destroy much of the progress the state and watershed groups have made in restoring Pennsylvania streams.
A video teaching people how to identify bighead and silver carp is available from the USFWS on YouTube.
Anglers and boaters are urged to contact the PFBC or WVDNR if they suspect the presence of Asian carp. Both agencies maintain a website for easy communication: PFBC Asian Carp and WVDNR Asian Carp.Additional information is available on the national Asian carp website. More information about the Clean Your Gear educational campaign is available online.