Silver Carp Facts & Other Aquatic Nuisance Species

April 13, 2012 by  

by Doug Leier

Last fall, an angler caught a silver carp in North Dakota’s portion of the James River near LaMoure.

A couple of weeks later, North Dakota Game and Fish Department fisheries biologists caught another one in a net, nearly 50 miles farther upstream in the James, near the dam at Jamestown Reservoir.

That makes silver carp the most recent aquatic nuisance species discovered in North Dakota, though they are well established in the lower Missouri River and in the James River in South Dakota. Record high flows in the James last year probably accelerated their arrival in North Dakota.

Here are some silver carp facts. Silver carp out-compete native and other game fish in large river systems. They eat phytoplankton, a food item used by zooplankton, which in turn are eaten by small game fish. They concentrate below dams and can drive out desirable fish. When frightened, they can jump several feet out of the water, thereby posing a danger to boaters and skiers.

While silver carp are the latest discovery, North Dakota already has several aquatic nuisance species, and others that aren’t here exist in nearby states.

Aquatic Nuisances Most people, if they discovered a potential lake-killing ANS on their boat trailer or in their minnow bucket, would dispose of it properly and not knowingly release or transport it. The difficult part is detecting the ANS in the first place. For instance, tiny zebra mussel velligers would go unnoticed in livewell and bait water, and fragments of invasive plants can look a lot like fragments from native plants.

And so, over the years the state has adopted laws that lift the burden of noticing or indentifying ANS from anglers and boaters.

The good thing is that preventing the spread of hidden or unknown species is not expensive or overly burdensome in terms of money and time. It’s as simple as not dumping the minnows in your bucket back into the water at day’s end, and removing any and all weeds attached to your boat, personal watercraft, paddleboat, fishing gear or other equipment before leaving the lake – not waiting until you arrive at the next lake or at home.

The objective for these laws is not so game wardens can write more tickets. Without a law that is enforceable, however, there’s little deterrence for those who are lazy or simply not inclined to remove ANS.

Since we’re getting an early start to the fishing and boating season, here’s a listing of North Dakota’s ANS prevention rules.

• All aquatic vegetation must be removed from boats, personal watercraft, trailers and associated equipment such as fishing poles/lures before leaving a body of water. That means “vegetation free” when transporting watercraft and equipment away from a boat ramp, landing area or shoreline.

• All aquatic vegetation must be removed from bait buckets when leaving the water.

• All water must be drained from boats and other watercraft, including livewells, baitwells, bilges and motors, before leaving a water body.

• Live aquatic bait or aquatic vegetation may not be transported into North Dakota, and all water must be drained from watercraft prior to entering the state.

• Anglers may not transport baitfish in containers of more than 5 gallons volume, and any other fish species, including game fish, may not be held in water and/or transported in bait buckets/containers when away from a water body, or held in water in any container, such as a cooler, on shore, unless the water is from melting ice only.

Remember these simple rules to help stop the spread of aquatic nuisances, learn all you can about silver carp facts, and report any findings you may come across.


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