NY Great Lakes Experts Contribute to New Report on Asian Carp

Buffalo, NY.  The Great Lakes Sea Grant Network has released a comprehensive report on Asian carp in the Great Lakes region. New York Sea Grant coastal education and fisheries specialists contributed to development of the Education and Outreach on Asian Carp report that includes information on carp life history, movement and behavior, monitoring, control, ecosystem impacts and gaps in current knowledge that need to be addressed further. The report can be downloaded at ohioseagrant.osu.edu/p/eun0o.

‘Asian carp pose a real threat to the ecosystem health of the Great Lakes and this report provides valuable information including biology, management and educational resources to help concerned citizens learn more about these unwanted fish,’ said New York Sea Grant Coastal Education Specialist Helen Domske, who contributed to the development of the carp report with now-retired New York Sea Grant Fisheries and Ecosystem Health Specialist David B. MacNeill.

Asian carp is the collective name used for four non-native species of carp from Asia currently found in North America. Modeling by the US Fish and Wildlife Service shows the Great Lakes are at risk of invasion from all four species.

A survey of state and federal agency experts summarizes current research on Asian carp and identifies ongoing information needs.

The report lists 77 education and outreach materials from the Great Lakes and Mississippi basins that can be used to educate stakeholders on the invasive fish. That list includes a New York Sea Grant Fact Sheet by Domske and MacNeill on the Asian carp threat specifically to the lower Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River.

Domske, based in Buffalo, is one of four experts in New York in a state-by-state list of speakers available to help local interest groups interested in educating members directly about Asian carp.

‘This comprehensive report gives us three pieces of valuable information, which support our fight against Asian carps as a threat to the Great Lakes,’ said Debbie Lee, director of the NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, Ann Arbor, MI, and that agency’s lead member of the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee. ‘It provides a clear picture of the overall impact of an Asian carp invasion of the lakes, it identifies specific gaps in our understanding of that impact, and, lastly, it contains a large inventory of outreach and education materials that scientists, managers and educators can use to communicate the Asian carp threat to the general public.’

The Education and Outreach on Asian Carp report and plan development by Ohio State University was funded by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative through the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee.

The Asian carp known for jumping out of the water and possibly injuring boaters is predominantly silver carp, which was brought to the United States for aquaculture along with bighead carp, grass carp, and black carp. The species most commonly of concern in the Great Lakes are silver carp and bighead carp, which are moving up the Illinois River towards the Chicago Area Waterways System that connects the river with the Great Lakes.

The primary concern over Asian carp in the Great Lakes is their impact on an already stressed food web. Silver carp and bighead carp compete with small forage fish and young sport fish for food and could negatively impact the lakes’ fishing industry. Grass carp eat the vegetation that provides prime wetland habitat and black carp feed on mollusks like native mussels, many of which are endangered. At the same time, Asian carp have few natural predators because they quickly outgrow native predator species, often within just a year.

In parts of the Illinois River, silver carp and bighead carp make up more than 90% of the fish biomass, essentially outcompeting all native species for food and habitat.

New York Sea Grant is a cooperative program of Cornell University and the State University of New York, and one of 33 university-based programs under the National Sea Grant College Program of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Through a statewide network of integrated services, New York Sea Grant has been promoting coastal vitality, environmental sustainability, and citizen awareness of Great Lakes and marine resources since 1971.

New York Sea Grant maintains Great Lakes offices at SUNY Buffalo, Wayne County Cooperative Extension in Newark, and SUNY Oswego. For updates on New York Sea Grant activities, the www.nyseagrant.org website has RSS, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube links.

The Great Lakes Sea Grant Network is a collaboration of Sea Grant programs along the Great Lakes, which includes Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant, Lake Champlain Sea Grant, Michigan Sea Grant, Minnesota Sea Grant, New York Sea Grant, Ohio Sea Grant, Pennsylvania Sea Grant and Wisconsin Sea Grant. For more information, visit greatlakesseagrant.com.

Helen Domske, New York Sea Grant, SGBuffal@cornell.edu, 716-645-3610
NYSG Great Lakes Publicist Kara Lynn Dunn, 315-465-7578, karalynn@gisco.net