Friday, August 12, 2011

Asian Carp eDNA Found Northeast Of Minnesota Twin Cities

Aug 11: The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MnDNR) indicates that water samples from the St. Croix River have tested positive for genetic material from silver carp (i.e. environmental DNA or eDNA), suggesting the invasive, leaping Asian species may be present in the river as far north as the dam at St. Croix Falls. According to a release, to date, no silver carp have been caught in the St. Croix River, either by anglers or commercial fishing operators. Only two bighead carp, a different Asian species, have been caught in the river – one in 1996 and another on April 18 of this year.

    MnDNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr said, "Our immediate goal is to mobilize as much effort as possible to confirm the presence of live silver carp in the St. Croix. The results raise the profile and the level of urgency around the Asian carp issue not just for the MnDNR, but for all agencies, conservation groups, municipalities and river users who have a stake in the health of the St. Croix and the Mississippi." The MnDNR will soon contract with commercial fishing operators to begin using nets on the St. Croix to try to capture live silver carp in the same areas where eDNA tests were positive. MnDNR staff will also use nets and boats outfitted with electric shocking capabilities to search for fish. MnDNR operations could start next week; commercial netting operations are expected to start by the end of August.

    MnDNR officials said they will proceed with development of a bubble or sonic barrier at the mouth of the St. Croix River at Prescott, WI, pending results of the additional carp sampling. Scientists believe such a barrier would not be a 100-percent deterrent to Asian carp, but if the populations are low, the barrier could help keep additional carp out of the river while other population control methods are developed. MnDNR is considering a variety of funding sources, including requesting assistance from the Minnesota Legislature, for the barrier. A recent estimate put the barrier's construction cost (for materials alone) at $7 million.

    U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) indicated in a media report, "The likely presence of Asian carp in the St. Croix River is very troubling and could have a disastrous impact on Minnesota's rivers. The fishing and boating industries contribute billions of dollars to Minnesota's economy and depend on the health of the state's waterways. I will continue to fight to prevent the spread of Asian carp into the Great Lakes, and I'll do everything I can to help protect the ecosystem and fisheries of Minnesota from this invasive fish."

    Access a release from MnDNR and link to the complete study (click here). Access a summary of Minnesota actions to stop the spread of Asian Carp (click here). Access a FAQ document on Asian Carp in Minnesota waters (click here). Access a media report from (click here). Access a Great Lakes Basin map for indication of possible connective, interbasin migration routes (click here). Access a Google map near St. Croix Falls, WI (click here).