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MDC plans major invasive fish removal project for lower Grand River

  

The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) plan to remove invasive Asian carp from the lower Grand River in a project to serve research and fisheries management. From Sept. 12-16, MDC will close to boaters the Brunswick Access and the final eight miles of the river before it flows into the Missouri River. Crews will net and remove the carp working with a commercial fisherman and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The fish will be utilized as commercial food, feed, and bait products. Anglers will benefit because desired native fish from buffalo and paddlefish to flathead and channel catfish will have less competition for food and space.

“We’re going to try to remove 15,000 pounds of invasive carp,” said Kasey Whiteman, MDC resource science field station supervisor. “We’re going to evaluate removal techniques and the feasibility of removing a significant amount of carp to knock their populations back. This is going to give us valuable information for strategies to controls these invasive species going forward.”

Invasive carp reproduce prolifically, crowding rivers and removing food and nutrients from the food chain that sport fish and other native fish need. The removal will target silver, bighead, grass, and black carp. Besides harming the fishery for sport, the silver carp is a jumping fish that leaps high from the water when startled and has caused serious injuries to boaters.

Invasive carp tend to pack into streams feeding the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. They like the slower waters in the feeder streams. Invaders such as silver carp feed on plankton and find the slower water in those streams nutrient rich and easy to filter food through their gills. This project aims to see if netting techniques can capture large numbers of adult and juvenile carp, and that a commercial fishing operation can market them profitably. The aim is to develop future ways that commercial anglers could remove invasive carp from feeder streams and provide benefits for the sport fishery.

MDC will place nets in the Grand River at both ends of the fish removal section. That will keep carp from escaping the target area. MDC has fish population sampling data from prior years and populations will be sampled after the carp removal. Biologists will be able to measure how sport fish populations respond and how quickly invasive carp re-populate the stream section.

The removal will occur Oct. 17-22 if a weather event prompts postponement in September. During the operation, the Grand River above the lower eight miles can still be accessed by boaters via the Bosworth Access. The Missouri River will still be accessible by boaters via MDC’s Miami, Waverly, Dalton, and Glasgow fishing accesses. Bank fishing will still be allowed in the lower eight miles during the operation.

“This is fisheries management and science at the same time,” Whiteman said. “We’ll learn what we can and can’t do with these fish, and the fish will be utilized.”

For more information on managing invasive carp, visit https://short.mdc.mo.gov/4Tr.