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Entries in invasive species (247)

Wednesday
Aug162017

Largemouth Stocked as Smallmouth Killed at Elkhead Reservoir

The war on bass in the West has taken a conciliatory turn in Colorado, at least. Responding to public outcry at the possible loss of the warmwater fishery in Elkhead Reservoir, Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) and volunteers with boats stocked 120 largemouth bass, weighing 3 to 6 pounds each, during June.  

Earlier in the year, 125,000 fry were added to the fishery in northwest Colorado, while 680 yearlings were released in 2016, the first bass legally stocked in the fishery since the 1980s.

"We are increasing stocking for more opportunities for anglers to catch alternative species in place of the species that we are trying to reduce for downstream management," said CPW biologist Tory Ayre.

Meanwhile, CPW also sponsored a June 24-July 2 tournament, offering financial incentives for anglers to remove as many smallmouth bass and northern pike from the Yampa River impoundment as possible.

What's going on? Why stock largemouth bass and kill smallmouth? Resource managers believe that the latter and pike escape over the spillway and threaten recovery of four federally endangered species: humpback chub, bonytail, Colorado pikeminnow and razorback sucker. CPW is mandated by law to protect those native fish.

Initially, biologists considered poisoning the 900-acre reservoir and restocking with more desirable species. But opposition from local anglers convinced them to take another approach, which includes a net across the spillway, an annual "kill tournament" for smallmouth and pike, and stocking with largemouth, bluegill, and crappie.

"It's great, we appreciate the CPW's help," said volunteer Norm Fedde. "We know they are for the sportsmen, but the federal government is not."

For the week-long tournament, which has no entry fee, CPW tagged one smallmouth bass and one pike, each worth $1,500. Additionally, the agency gave $750 each to the anglers who caught the most of each species, as well as a variety of daily prizes.

To the south, meanwhile, CPW sponsored the third annual "kill" tournament for smallmouth bass July 7-30 at Ridgway Reservoir in Ridgway State Park. The fish were illegally introduced there about a decade ago, and also pose a risk of escaping into rivers to threaten native species.

"A primary mission of Colorado Parks and Wildlife is to work to sustain native species," said John Alves, senior aquatic biologist for CPW's Southwest Region. "Colorado's anglers contribute significantly to our work and we greatly appreciate their support in helping us to maintain the state's fisheries."

Tuesday
Aug012017

More than 5,000 Lionfish Removed From Florida Waters

Already this year, more than 5,000 invasive lionfish have been removed from Florida waters as part of the annual  campaign that runs from Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day on May 20 and ends Sept. 4.

"There’s still plenty of time to compete in this year’s Lionfish Challenge," said the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

"Over 5,000 lionfish have been removed from Florida waters thanks to the program, including nearly 3,700 recreational fish removals and more than 1,200 pounds commercially (equates to about 1,400 fish)."

The challenge rewards lionfish harvesters with prizes such as T-shirts, tumblers, heat packs for stings, pole spears, an extra spiny lobster per day during the two-day sport season, and much more. It only takes 25 lionfish (or 25 pounds commercially) to qualify for the program and the more lionfish you enter, the more prizes you will receive. Plus, all participants are entered into a raffle to win even more prizes such as Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium gift bags, ZombieStickz pole spears and customized ZooKeeper Lionfish Containment Units.

The persons with the most lionfish at the end of the competition will be crowned the Lionfish King or Queen (recreational category) and the Commercial Champion at the Lionfish Safari tournament in St. Petersburg the weekend of Sept. 9.

To find out how to participate in the challenge, go here.

Tuesday
Jun062017

Mild Winter Contributed to Asian Carp Die-Off

A milder than normal winter likely was responsible for the large die-off of Asian silver carp that occurred during April in Kentucky and Barkley Lakes, as well as on the nearby Ohio River.

"It appears that young Asian carp are succumbing to stressors brought on by insufficient fat storage to get the fish through the winter and spring months," reported Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Resources Department (KFWR), crediting scientists with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the diagnosis.

"Young, but large carp are likely most vulnerable to starvation after a warm winter because the fishes' metabolism was elevated above that of a normal, colder winter."

In other words, the fish couldn't get enough to eat, which weakened them, and made them more vulnerable to secondary stressors, such as bacterial infections that their immune systems normally would fight off.

An Asian carp die-off also occurred in 2014. But Kentucky biologist Jessica Morris said that was in just one place, below Lake Barkley, with gas bubble disease as the diagnosed cause.

"As long as only silver carp are affected (this time), we're going to say that it's a good thing, because that's helping us control the population," she added.

When anglers and boaters began reporting dead and dying fish in early April, biologists from both KFWR and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) were quick to investigate.

“The widespread die-off does not seem to be impacting other fish species, which is good news for game fish and anglers” TWRA fisheries chief Frank Fiss said early in the investigation.  “We appreciate all the reports we have received, and we want everyone to know we are aware of the die-off and are monitoring it.

“While we are trying to learn how to slow or stop their expansion, the recent die-off of thousands of fish for whatever reason has occurred naturally,” he added.

One angler on Kentucky Lake reported dead carp along the banks, as well as distressed fish "moving fast and making a wake, and they were anywhere and everywhere. Many came by the boat and a couple even banged off the trolling motor."

He also saw fish "beach themselves on the bank and that's when we noted why there were so many on the bank."

Another fisherman said the carp  were "swimming lethargically in very shallow water. Then the craziest thing happened. We saw the carp getting really close to the bank and throwing themselves onto the bank. We had never seen them do that before."

Fiss added that most fatalities seem to have been two-year-old fish, "but there are a lot of dead fish, and we are probably only seeing a tiny percentage of what actually inhabits the reservoir."

Friday
May192017

Lionfish Hunters Wanted!

Attention all lionfish hunters: The 2017 Lionfish Challenge begins tomorrow, May 20, on Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day. Remember to register online at MyFWC.com/Lionfish or sign up in person at the Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day Festival at Plaza de Luna in Pensacola May 20-21.

The 2017 Lionfish Challenge rewards recreational and commercial lionfish harvesters for their removal efforts with prizes and incentives. Once registered, participants email photos of their first 25 qualifying lionfish (or electronic trip tickets totaling at least 25 pounds sold for commercial harvesters) to Lionfish@MyFWC.com. Be sure to include the harvester name, the date harvested and your signature in the photo (written on a piece of paper next to the fish for example). Recreational category participants must submit any lionfish harvested in excess of the initial 25 to a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC)-approved checkpoint (list of locations available at MyFWC.com/Lionfish by clicking on “Lionfish Challenge”) or FWC-sponsored lionfish tournament (FWC staff must be present to verify). Commercial participants can continue to submit trip tickets via email. All participants who have an active Saltwater Products License and have commercial lionfish sales within the past year will automatically be placed in the commercial category.

Rewards for recreational and commercial participants include:

  • A commemorative coin to validate membership.
  • An event T-shirt.
  • Lionfish Hall of Fame recognition on the MyFWC.com website.
  • If qualified before July 26, the opportunity to take an additional spiny lobster per day during the 2017 sport season (July 26-27). Participants must have commemorative coin as proof of participation.

Participants may also qualify for additional prizes such as a reusable lionfish sting heat pack, customized neck gaiter, customized tumbler, and pole spear with grip kit.

The recreational and commercial harvesters who check in the most lionfish will be crowned Florida’s Lionfish King or Queen and Florida’s Commercial Champion, and both will be recognized at the 2017 Lionfish Safari Sept. 10 in St. Petersburg.

Once you’ve registered, don’t forget to join the FWC in celebrating the third annual Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day (Saturday, May 20) by attending one of six statewide festivals and tournaments.

Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day (the first Saturday after Mother’s Day each year) raises awareness about lionfish; a nonnative, invasive species that has a potential negative impact on native species and habitat.

Pensacola Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day Festival and Tournament

The third annual Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day Festival will be from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 20-21 at Plaza de Luna, 900 S. Palafox St., Pensacola.

This event will include celebrity chef and fillet demonstrations, lionfish tastings, family-friendly games and activities, and more than 40 art, diving and conservation vendors.

 To participate in the tournament hosted by the Gulf Coast Lionfish Coalition, visit the Lionfish World Championship webpage at LionfishWorldChampionship.com.

 Check out the booths of our many sponsors including Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville, Whole Foods Market, iHeartMedia, Coast Watch Alliance, Visit Pensacola, Escambia County Division of Marine Resources, Florida Sea Grant, the city of Pensacola, Navarre Beach Marine Science Station, tournament host Gulf Coast Lionfish Coalition, Guy Harvey Magazine, SHELLArt, Dive Rite, ZooKeeper and Dive Pros.

 Statewide lionfish events

Can’t make the Pensacola festival and tournament? Find an event near you by scrolling over “Event Info” at the top of ReefRangers.com and clicking on “Statewide Events.”

  • Lion Tamer Tournament – Panama City Beach.
  • Destin Lionfish Tournament – Destin.
  • Sebastian Lionfish Fest – Sebastian.
  • REEF Lionfish Workshop and Collection – Big Pine Key.
  • Northeast Florida Lionfish Blast – Jacksonville.
  • FSDA Lionfish Calcutta –St. Petersburg.
  • FWC Exotic Pet Amnesty Day – Sanford – May 6.

Look for event updates at MyFWC.com/Lionfish by clicking on “Lionfish Derbies and Events.”

 Questions?

Contact the FWC Division of Marine Fisheries Management at 850-487-0554. For more on FWC’s Pet Amnesty Day, or if you have an exotic pet and need help finding it a new home, visit MyFWC.com/WildlifeHabitats and click on “Nonnative Species” and “Exotic Pet Amnesty Program.”

 

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Wednesday
May172017

A Carp Is Not Just a Carp; Here's the Difference

Many people, including anglers, don't understand that we have several kinds of carp now swimming in our waters, all of them fish from other countries. And all of them problematic in one way or another.

The fish in the top photo is a common carp. It was introduced more than a century ago, with the help of the federal government. It's now in lakes and rivers all over this country, and has degraded water quality in many of them, mostly because it roots on the bottom and stirs up sediment.  State agencies sometimes use a rotenone treatment to wipe out a lake's fishery, primarily because of overpopulation by common carp. When someone says "carp," this is the fish that most people think of.

Grass carp (that's me with an illegally stocked grass carp) were first introduced during the 1960s, to help control aquatic vegetation, mostly exotic milfoil and hydrilla. The problem is that they eat ALL plants, including beneficial native vegetation. Some have escaped and are reproducing in our rivers. More recently, there's concern that they might establish a breeding population in the Great Lakes. They're far too easy to purchase and stock illegally by people who have no idea of the problems that they cause.

Finally, Asian carp. That description applies to both silver (top) and bighead carp. The silver carp is the one that you see so many photos of as it flies through the air. Both are growing larger here than in their native habitat, with bigheads now exceeding 100 pounds. These are the most recent introductions, brought in by fish farmers in the South. They escaped and now are outcompeting native fish for food and habitat in many of our major rivers, most notably, the Missouri, Mississippi, Illinois, and Ohio. In some places, they account for more than 95 percent of the biomass. There's concern that they, too, will establish breeding populations in the Great Lakes.