Activities to keep Grass Carp, a species of Asian carp out of the Great Lakes

There is constant activity by many organizations and levels of government in Canada and the United States to keep Asian carp from invading the Great Lakes, including one of the 4 species of concern - grass carp.

Last updated: September 7, 2018.
  • To learn more about the 4 Asian Carp species that are of concern, please click here.
  • This article was published on June 7, 2018 - eradication efforts are continuing – “Crews from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources next week will search the Sandusky River for grass carp, looking to capture the invasive species for research and removal”.
    Click here for: Wildlife crews to test Sandusky River for grass carp article
  • According to the published research, grass carp have been occasionally collected from the Lake Erie Basin since at least 1980. The following article was published in the literature in 2013 indicating that the grass carp were found in 2012.
  • .
      Jeff Miner presented at the IAGLR 2018 conference, IAGLR 2018 presentation.
      “First evidence of grass carp recruitment in the Great Lakes Basin” Duane C. Chapmana, Jeremiah J. Davisb, Jill A. Jenkinsc, Patrick M. Kocovskyd, Jeffrey G. Minerb, John Farverb, P. Ryan Jacksone. Journal of Great Lakes Research 39 (2013) 547–554.
      a US Geological Survey, Columbia Environmental Science Center, 4200 New Haven Road, Columbia, MO 65201-8709, USA
      b Bowling Green State University, Department of Biological Sciences and Geology, Bowling Green, OH 43403-0208, USA
      c US Geological Survey, National Wetlands Research Center, 700 Cajundome Blvd., Lafayette, LA 70506-3152, USA
      d US Geological Survey, Lake Erie Biological Station, 6100 Columbus Avenue, Sandusky, OH 44857, USA
      e US Geological Survey, Illinois Water Science Center, 1201 W. University Avenue, Suite 100, Urbana, IL 61801, USA

      Previous publication of works noting wild-caught triploid and diploid grass carp are also available in the literature:
      “Grass carp in the Great Lakes region: establishment potential, expert perceptions, and re-evaluation of experimental evidence of ecological impact”, Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, 2014, 71(7): 992-999. Marion E. Wittmann,a Christopher L. Jerde,b Jennifer G. Howeth,c Sean P. Maher,de Andrew M. Deines,a Jill A. Jenkins,f Gregory W. Whitledge,g Sarah R. Burbank,a William L. Chadderton,h Andrew R. Mahon,i Jeffrey T. Tyson,j Crysta A. Gantz,a Reuben P. Keller,k John M. Drake,d David M. Lodgeb
      a Department of Biological Sciences, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN 46556, USA.
      b Department of Biological Sciences, University of Notre Dame, and Environmental Change Initiative, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN 46556, USA.
      c Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-0206, USA.
      d Odum School of Ecology, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602-2202, USA.
      e Environmental Science, Policy and Management, Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, University of California Berkeley, Berkeley CA 94720, USA.
      f US Geological Survey, National Wetlands Research Center, Lafayette, LA 70506, USA.
      g Center for Fisheries, Aquaculture and Aquatic Sciences, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL 62901-6511, USA.
      h The Nature Conservancy, South Bend, IN 46617, USA.
      i Department of Biology, Institute for Great Lakes Research, Central Michigan University, Mt. Pleasant, MI 48859, USA.
      j Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife, 305 E. Shoreline Drive, Sandusky, OH 43440, USA.
      k Institute for Environmental Sustainability, Loyola University Chicago, Chicago, IL 60660, USA.

  • Asian Carp Canada - According to Asian Carp Canada at the Invasive Species Centre, “There have been 25 Grass Carp captured in Canadian waters since 2012 in Lake Huron, Lake Ontario and Lake Erie, but most of these were found to be triploid (sterile). Oxygen isotope analysis indicates these individuals likely originated in aquaculture facilities in the USA. To date, no Silver or Black carps have been found in the Great Lakes.”
  • Good pictures of the control measures i.e. electrofishing, netting
  • There is a reason fish are tagged. They help researchers track down and kill other invasive fish. Also, note from the example article below that “The (Minnesota) DNR is permitted to track up to two invasive carp in the St. Croix or Mississippi River at any given time.” That is a tactical plan, not a continuous catch, tag and release plan. Note that two invasive fish were removed from the water and killed as a result.
  • What is happening in 2018?There are many concurrent prevention, control and research activities underway by numerous state and provincial authorities. Here are some key extractions and links to several of the 2018 Asian carps action plans below.
    • Ohio
      Further, as seen directly from the Ohio Asian Carp Tactical Plan, in addition to actions relating to the bighead and silver carps, Ohio is undertaking specific actions relating to grass carp:
      “Outcome 3: Populations of feral Grass Carp are prevented from becoming established in Ohio.
      · Objective 3.1. Continue annual surveillance via testing ploidy status of Grass Carp caught outside of stocked waters in cooperation with the USFWS to determine the extent of a potential problem.
      · Objective 3.2. Each year, verify the USFWS ploidy certification program, randomly inspect shipments of Grass Carp delivered in Ohio, and fine violators who illegally import diploid Grass Carp. Ohio Asian Carp Tactical Plan: 2014 - 2020 6
      · Objective 3.3. Work with the Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force, Great Lakes Basin Panel on AIS and the Mississippi River Basin Panel on AIS to urge the prohibition of diploid Grass Carp in the United States.”
      “Grass Carp were imported into Alabama and Arkansas aquaculture facilities in 1963 to control vegetation in rearing ponds. They were widely stocked and their range was expanded by intentional and accidental releases. Many of the 45 states where Grass Carp are now found, including Ohio, have banned the stocking of fertile diploid Grass Carp but allow the sale and stocking of genetically sterile triploid Grass Carp by permitted aquaculture facilities. Ohio has allowed the stocking of triploid Grass Carp since 1988.”
      Full strategy was listed under

      Note that triploid fish are licensed in Pennsylvania, Ohio and New York. They:
      - Control pond weeds like water milfoil
      - Do not reproduce
      - Leave most of the floating and emergent plants alone
      - 7 – 10 fish per acre is a nominal stocking level

      Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee
      In addition to Ohio’s actions, the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee (ACRCC) has identified a number of collaborative efforts. “The ACRCC’s 2018 Action Plan contains a portfolio of high-priority detection, prevention, and control projects developed to support a comprehensive, multi-pronged, and science-based Asian carp management strategy. The Action Plan serves as a foundation for the work of the ACRCC partnership — a collaboration of 27 United States (U.S.) and Canadian federal, state, provincial, and local agencies and organizations — to achieve its mission to prevent the introduction and establishment of Asian carp in the Great Lakes. Projects in the 2018 Action Plan are supported by a combination of $28,922,810 agency funding and $21.1 million Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding provided through fiscal year (FY) 2018 appropriations. All FY 2018 Funding Projections are based on the Consolidated Appropriations Act 2018 (Public Law 115-141).”
      ACRCC Members include:
      Illinois Department of Natural Resources
      Illinois Environmental Protection Agency
      Indiana Department of Natural Resources
      Michigan Department of Natural Resources
      Michigan Office of the Great Lakes
      Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
      New York Department of Environmental Conservation
      Ohio Department of Natural Resources
      Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection
      Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission
      Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
      Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry
      Québec Ministère de la Forêt, de la Faune et des Parcs
      U.S Department of Commerce - National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
      U.S. Department of Agriculture – Natural Resources Conservation Service
      U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
      U.S. Coast Guard
      U.S. Department of Transportation/Maritime Administration
      U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
      U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
      U.S. Geological Survey National Parks Service
      Fisheries and Oceans Canada
      City of Chicago
      Great Lakes Fishery Commission
      Great Lakes Commission
      Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago

      The following are summaries of the prevention actions that will be undertaken in 2018.
      · Current Barrier System in the CAWS – U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) continues to operate three different types of fish deterrent measures (bypass barrier, electric barriers, and bar screens on sluice gates) throughout the CAWS, each designed to prevent movement of Asian carp toward the Great Lakes in a different manner.
      · Construction of a New Electric Barrier – USACE is currently upgrading the demonstration barrier (now Barrier 1) to a permanent facility.
      · Development of Potential Future Actions at Brandon Road – USACE will recommend a path forward to complete the feasibility study.
      · Closure Actions at Little Killbuck Creek Pathway – Ohio Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will complete the design plans, finalize permitting for construction and acquire easements on parcels for the construction of the berm.
      · Closure Actions at Ohio-Erie Canal Pathway – USACE will complete 100 percent design and will obtain necessary environmental compliance approvals, execute real estate agreements, and award the construction contract for implementation of Ohio-Erie Canal structural measures.
      · Barge Entrainment/Water Jets – The proposed work for FY 2018 builds upon previous research that has been conducted to provide management options for the mitigation of pathways for fish passage at the electric dispersal barrier system (EDBS), and potential entrainment and transport of fish through locks associated with transiting commercial tow traffic.

      The following are summaries of the control measures that will be undertaken in 2018.
      · Contract Fishing, Seining, and Netting – Illinois DNR will continue contract fishing to reduce the numbers of Asian carp in the upper Illinois and lower Des Plaines Rivers downstream of the electrical barrier. Through this effort, over 850,000 pounds of Asian carp are removed from upper Illinois Waterway (IWW) annually, thereby maintaining or further reducing the estimated Asian carp populations.
      · Asian Carp Enhanced Contract Removal Program Development – This project recognizes the value of increased harvest of Asian carp in the lower Illinois River by removing a goal of 8 million pounds by 2019 and a short-term (five-year) vision to achieve 15 million pounds removed by 2022. This new program will reduce the numbers of Asian carp in the Illinois River in the Peoria Pool through controlled and contracted fishing efforts. This program will be implemented through the issuing of contracts to those willing to fish in Peoria Pool and fulfilling contractual obligations of selling, reporting, transporting, and fishing in the identified area. This project will also provide critical information on population densities of Asian carp over time in the Peoria Pool as well as the Illinois River system to guide management efforts. This project will also identify and use mechanisms for use of the harvested fish through private industry for purposes including human consumption. Through a cooperative relationship of agency and fisher along with end users/markets, advice and support will be provided as necessary to further inform fishers on the delivery of quality and quantity of fish to the end user/markets through this interaction.
      · Asian Carp Population Model and Demographics – Determining ways to maximize return on investment of management actions will be an area of increased emphasis in 2018. These efforts will be guided through the refinement, expansion, and strategic use of an Asian carp population model developed to inform key management decisions for Asian carp control, including: (1) the optimal location(s) and times for adult harvest in downstream navigation pools in the IWW relative to upstream navigation pools, and (2) potential locations for implementing deterrents to prevent the continuous upstream movement of Asian carp from source self-sustaining populations established farther downstream. The model will be used to determine combinations of management actions needed to achieve the maximum net impact on Asian carp population levels for specific locations in the IWW.
      · Apply Improved Fishery Gears and Designs – U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) will complete final analysis of the gear evaluation study comparing traditional electrofishing, paupier, and dozer trawl, and in coordination with partners compile results from multiple gear evaluation projects to develop standard protocols to detect, monitor, and remove populations of Asian carp in the Illinois River.

      Specific ACRCC Grass Carp 2018 Actions
      ACRCC state and federal member agencies have developed a suite of proposed actions for implementation in 2018, building off existing efforts within the Lake Erie basin. Planning is being conducted in collaboration with the Council of Great Lakes Fishery Agencies Lake Erie Invasive Fishes Committee, which has identified addressing the Grass Carp threat as a high priority for strategic action among its agency membership with jurisdictional management authority. Efforts to manage Grass Carp support the coordinated and cooperative fishery management conducted by Lake Erie agencies signatory to the Joint Strategic Plan for Management of Great Lakes Fisheries, and the goals and objectives of the Management and Control Plan for Bighead, Black, Grass, and Silver Carps in the United States. These efforts are further supported by the Great Lakes AIS Early Detection program, conducted by USFWS in collaboration with State and Federal agency partners to provide targeted surveillance for nonnative species (including Grass Carp) in high-priority (highest risk) locations within the basin. In 2018 the following Grass Carp efforts will be undertaken:
      · Develop and implement an expanded planned action using traditional gear at specified locations in the Sandusky River.
      · Implement and evaluate innovative solutions for controlling Grass Carp, as science becomes available (e.g., bait attractants, behavioral deterrents, etc.).
      · Continue and supplement ongoing early life history sampling for Grass Carp in the Sandusky River to measure potential reproductive response of action.
      · Analyze all Grass Carp removed from Lake Erie for ploidy status, natal origin, estimated age, growth rates, and maturity status.
      · Create new eDNA markers for Grass Carp.
      · Develop permanent monitoring/index stations for Grass Carp eggs in the Sandusky and Maumee Rivers and sample the rivers several other Lake Erie tributaries during highflow events.
      · Complete FluEgg simulations for past high-flow events on the Sandusky River (and potentially Maumee River) to assess past successful spawning events and validate FluEgg performance.
      · Test the efficacy of a Grass-Carp-specific bait in controlled laboratory studies, followed by pond trials and assess potential attractants for Grass Carp, including spawning-related chemicals (pheromones).
      Full strategy available here.

      Also, there is an effort underway in Illinois to restock a once native fish, the alligator gar, as a means of increasing pressure on the Asian carps. Article here

      Ohio Political Leadership
      “EUCLID, OH — Over the past few years, several Ohio politicians have taken aim at an invasive fish species called Asian carp. Now, two Democratic state representatives, Kent Smith, from Euclid, and John Rogers, from Mentor-on-the-Lake, want to boost funding for programs that would stop the fish species from entering the Great Lakes…Which brings us to March 2018. Smith and Rogers announced they were introducing legislation that urged the U.S. Congress to fund USACE's efforts against Asian carp, specifically the implementation of new technology at the Brandon Road Lock and Dam in Joliet, Illinois (not far from where the carp was found in June 2017). Politicians on both sides of the aisle have lobbied Congress for similar funding — including Republican candidate for governor and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and Rep. Marcy Kaptur, a Lorain-area Democrat and the longest serving woman in U.S. House history.”
      Article here

  • GBF article from 2016 explaining some efforts