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Messages - Tory Gabriel, Ohio Sea Grant

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FYI- Public Notice from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers regarding dredging Toledo Harbor.  Deadline for public comment is December 15, 2013. 


Thanks esoxal. That open dialog is exactly what we're shooting for, so thanks for the feedback. 

As you know, we're equally concerned with the phosphorus and loading issues, and there are a lot of good scientists working on it from multiple agencies and universities.  It certainly seems to be a simple issue, but the fixes are complex.  It's definitely a priority and we're working on it!

Understood, Wakina.  I think we're on the same page.  :thumbsup:

Just FYI- Here is a somewhat recent article (not too dramatic!) noting the multitude of projects going on right now to counter Asian carps.  It includes projects in the Illinois River lock system, as well as Eagle Marsh (the floodplain you referenced in your last post), and also a couple other high priority areas right here in Ohio that could potentially connect the Ohio River with Lake Erie. 

If you're really a glutton for punishment, here are the actual reports referenced in the article.  Long, acronym filled reads.

Monitoring and Response Plan for Asian Carp in the Upper Illinois River and Chicago Area Waterway System

Asian Carp Control Strategy Framework

Hi Wakina,

While I agree that there's a whole lot of "panic" in articles (and everywhere else!) these days to try to grab attention, I don't quite get the same vibe you do from that article. It sounds to me more like frustration by the author, but most of what is written there has a lot of truth behind it.  Hydrologic separation is being pushed by many groups, and frankly it seems to be the best answer to not only the carp problem but also future invasive species.  And it's certainly not game over yet in regards to Asian carps in Lake Erie, but I'd be much more comfortable if grass carp hadn't spawned in the Sandusky.

My biggest issue with the article is that it has a couple facts mixed up.  For one, the original grass carps stocked way back when were not triploid.  They were in fact diploid, and could reproduce with out any of that Jurassic Park magic.  Also, the article states that until recently, all grass carp found in the Great Lakes have been sterile.  Truth be told, the ploidy of most of these fish were just not often tested until recently, so we don't know if they were diploid or triploid. 

The likely scenario here is that diploid grass carp were illegally shipped with legal triploid grass carp, and managed to escape or get released.  Unfortunately, some of them also managed to find suitable spawning habitat and conditions.  Hopefully this was a result of unique conditions that aren't often present, and hopefully there aren't enough diploid grass carp out there to create a self sustaining population. 

Thanks for posting. 

While it's true that just because a certain percentage of a population backing a theory does not make it an infallible truth, it's also true that there aren't really any "infallible truths" in science.  And we very much agree that most scientists are skeptics, as we need to be convinced with data.  That does not, however, necessarily equate to being in a "minority camp".  Good science does indeed invite dissent and demand accountability, in the form of data. 

There seems to be a decent amount of data backing climate change, and we are presented with more on a pretty routine basis.  Just for instance, the relatively rapid warming of Lake Superior (article here.) We're also seeing more frequent, and more intense storms throughout the region, which lead to more runoff and therefore more nutrient loading. Another example is increased habitat for, and populations of, largemouth bass in Lake Erie where we used to find smallmouth bass. 

Do these few examples prove that climate change is real?  No.  But it is data that backs the hypothesis.  Most scientists I work with agree that climate change is occurring, and they've reached that point by poring over data presented to them.  If current trends continue, there are potential major environmental and community development/economic impacts that we'll need to deal with.  It's better to head off these impacts where we can by using the data available to us and planning accordingly. 

Well put, Fred. 

The biggest point I took from this was that if grass carp can spawn successfully in the Sandusky, then it's a real possibility that bighead and silver carps could too if they ever got here in numbers.  They have pretty similar spawning requirements.  Not really a surprise based on recent models, but another point of evidence in that direction. 

And to your point regarding regulations, hopefully the Tactical Plan referenced in the original post helps make enforcement even more effective.

Thanks for the kind words John.  I'll see if I can fit that video in at the conference.  I like the video too, but wish they had some live specimens to show.  Preserved ones just have a different look to them, even though the anatomical features are the big ones to look for.   I'm guessing this was filmed in Michigan, so they wouldn't have access to the live bighead or silver carps. 

Regarding this years walleye and yellow perch hatch, I believe the ODNR has all the info at this point.  As they originally suspected, it appears that yellow perch had a decent hatch, and walleye had a below average hatch (but better than the past couple years!) So, now it's just rooting for good conditions for their survival from here to 15 inches. 

This just came across my email.  Unfortunate news.  As the release states, the grass carp are not to be confused with the silver and bighead carp, although all three species are lumped in to the "Asian carp" moniker.  Silver and bigheads would be a major blow because they feed mainly on plankton, which is the bottom of the aquatic food chain.  Grass carp feed on aquatic vegetation instead of plankton.  However, the aquatic vegetation plays an important role in the environment as well, so this is not good news and definitely bears watching. 

For Immediate Release
Oct. 28, 2013
ODNR, USGS Collaborate
on Grass Carp Study      
ODNR develops tactical plan
to address threats from invasive carp
COLUMBUS, OH – The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) collaborated on a USGS study released this week 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 through aquatic plant removal. The ODNR Division of Wildlife is actively engaged in discussions with the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), USGS, Great Lakes states as well as Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the province of Ontario about next actions to address knowledge gaps about grass carp population status in the Great Lakes, evaluate risk from this species and potential to develop integrated pest management strategies to control impacts of feral, naturally reproducing grass carp.
"Grass carp are considered an Asian carp but should not be confused with bighead and silver Asian carp,” said ODNR Division of Wildlife Fish Administrator Rich Carter.
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 U.S. 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. Feral grass carp have been collected in the Ohio River watershed since 1980. Reproducing populations exist in the lower Ohio River. Recent research documented fertile (diploid) grass carp in Lake Michigan and Lake Erie at Monroe, Mich.
Ohio and 42 other states allow the sale of sterile (triploid) grass carp that are used for controlling aquatic vegetation in ponds. Ohio law does not allow importation or stocking of fertile (diploid) grass carp. Ohio law has allowed importation and stocking of certified sterile (triploid) grass carp since 1988. A certification program is administered by USFWS.
ODNR has developed an Ohio Asian Carp Tactical Plan that provides detailed approaches to address the threats by bighead, silver and grass carp. The plan is currently being finalized incorporating stakeholder comments. ODNR’s strategies to address grass carp outlined in the plan include:
•   Statewide testing of fish collected in ODNR assessments to determine fertility.
•   Random testing of certified triploid grass carp for fertility status in Ohio shipments.
•   Enforcement of prohibitions on diploid grass carp importation.
•   Engaging regional partners in discussions on grass carp use and threats/risk assessment.
ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website at
- 30 -
For more information, contact:
Eileen Corson, ODNR Office of Communications
Rich Carter, ODNR Division of Wildlife

Here is a handy little video that came across my email this morning.  Live bait is a potential vector for the spread of many invasive species, and Asian carps are an example.  This video gives some tips on how to identify juvenile Asian carps compared to common bait species. 
Juvenile Asian carps identification video

And remember, never dump your unused bait in the water!  Whether it came from the bait shop or a different body of water, it has the potential to spread aquatic invasive species.  The best way to dispose of unwanted bait is to dump it in the trash, or on land, far enough away from the water that the critters can't reach it.  For more information, check out the Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers! website.

As always, good luck out there.

Just FYI-

Here's an opportunity for your voice to be heard for those of you that enjoy outdoor recreation.


Lake Erie Hot Topics / Re: 2013 Hatch
« on: 10/02/13, 13:20 »
Hi Jim,

Nothing concrete from Ontario, but from all the data they have it appears the Ohio numbers are accurate.  Decent yellow perch hatch, a little below average for the walleye hatch. 

Lake Erie Hot Topics / Re: 2013 Hatch
« on: 09/06/13, 08:12 »
Preliminary numbers from Ohio are coming in, and I stress both "preliminary" and "Ohio". 

So far there is evidence of a decent yellow perch hatch, and a slightly less than average walleye hatch.  If that holds true, "slightly less than average" would be better than the past five years, aside from 2010 which was pretty much average.   

However, they are still waiting for other agency data, and then they will need to crunch the numbers.  It will be later this fall until we know the real story here. 

Lake Erie Hot Topics / Re: 2013 Hatch
« on: 08/28/13, 06:42 »
Hi Jeff,

There are no updates at this time.  Agencies are still conducting trawls, so we should have some numbers within a few weeks. 


Lake Erie Hot Topics / Re: 2013 Hatch
« on: 07/24/13, 19:51 »
Hey Fishman, I'm afraid we'll have to be more patient.  Those trawls won't be completed until later in the month, and then they will be compiled and analyzed in conjunction with Ontario's numbers, etc.  They usually don't have the numbers until later in September.  Until then we'll just have to keep our fingers crossed.  Just from trawls done at Stone Lab around the islands this summer, we've seen a decent number of young-of-year yellow perch.  That really doesn't mean anything in the grand scheme of things, but it's nice to see them versus not seeing any. 

Nothing political about news, Wakina (well, there shouldn't be anyway.)  Thanks for posting.  The GLRI money has been very helpful in accomplishing some major work on our freshwater resources.  You can see additional information on the GLRI program at the following link: Great Lakes Restoration Initiative

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