Seven carp that are native to Asia have been introduced to the United States. The common term is Asian carp, however, in the U.S. we use it to mean silver, bighead, black, and grass carp.
The two of particular concern right now, and most commonly known as Asian carp, are silver and bighead carp.
Asian carp pose a huge threat to Ohio’s wildlife, economy, humans, and recreational opportunities. These fish can grow up to 100 lbs, but typically average around 30-40 lbs.
They breed like mosquitoes, spawning multiple times each year, and eat like hogs, eating up to 20% of their body weight daily in plankton that native fish need to survive.
To make matters worse, silver carp are easily startled and will jump up to 8 feet out of the water when disturbed by a passing boat. These fish have injured boaters in several states.
If not stopped, these devastating fish could seriously alter many of Ohio’s waterways. Parts of the Missouri River are dominated by Asian carp – 90% of the fish found in these parts are Asian carp.
Are Asian Carp in Ohio’s waterways?
This is a question that the OEC is asking as well. We know that live silver carp have been found in the Little and Great Miami Rivers, as well as between the Greenup Locks in the Ohio River drainage watershed.
Positive environmental DNA (eDNA) hits have been found in the Sandusky River and Bay, as well as Maumee Bay. eDNA is DNA that is shed by these carp and are found in water samples, such as a fish scale.
Bighead carp have been caught Sandusky Bay, but never silver carp. While one bighead carp has been caught before, which was bred in the South and was released in Lake Erie, there has never been a confirmed presence of silver carp in Lake Erie.
These positive hits suggest that a live fish is present in Lake Erie, but the eDNA does not tell us if a spawning population has established itself in Lake Erie.
Just because live fish have been found in some rivers within the Ohio River basin and eDNA has been found in Lake Erie does not mean that these fish are established in Ohio’s waterways.
The OEC is working with federal, state, and local governments and national, regional, state, and local organizations across the Great Lakes and the Ohio River basin to stop this invasion of these carp.