Iowa Fishermen: You Can Be Fined Big for Mishandling an Invasive Species [LIST]
Fishing is a great way to pass the time, however, sometimes you don't always pull up what you're going after. Instead of that prized bass or channel catfish, you pull up a bighead carp, or what about a goby? Here's a list of Iowa's invasive fish species and how to best deal with them.
Firstly, what does Iowa Law say about invasive Fish Species?
Iowa law makes it illegal to 1) possess, introduce, purchase, sell, propagate, or transport aquatic invasive species in Iowa, 2) place a trailer or launch a watercraft with aquatic invasive species attached in public waters, and 3) operate a watercraft in a marked aquatic invasive species infestation. The scheduled fine is $500 for violating any of the above regulations. The law also requires the DNR to identify waterbodies infested with aquatic invasive species and post signs alerting boaters. The DNR may restrict boating, fishing, swimming, and trapping in infested waters. Iowa law states that fishermen who catch invasive species should immediately kill or return the species to the water from which it came. Species can also be transported in a sealed container for identification purposes only.
1) Bighead Carp
Bighead carp are native to large rivers of southern and central China. They were first brought to the United States in 1972 by an Arkansas fish farmer to improve water clarity and increase fish production in culture ponds. Bighead carp began to appear in the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers in the early 1980s and quickly spread to other rivers in the Mississippi River Basin. Bighead carp have been reported in Iowa since the mid-1990’s and inhabit rivers and streams in the Mississippi, Des Moines, Iowa, Cedar, Chariton, Missouri, Platte, Nodaway, and Big Sioux watersheds. Because bighead carp grow to large sizes and populations can reach high densities, they have the potential to deplete plankton populations and reduce populations of native species.
2) Silver Carp
Silver carp are native to large rivers in eastern Asia. They were first brought to the United States by an Arkansas fish farmer in 1973 for plankton control in ponds and as a food fish. Silver carp are spreading rapidly throughout the rivers of the Mississippi River Basin and have been reported across twelve states. They were first recorded in Iowa in 2003 from the Des Moines River but are also known to inhabit the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. These guys can be really nasty too. Not only do they compete with native fish species for food and territory, but the silver carp also pose a threat to boaters because of their leaping ability. When the fish feel the vibration from a boat, they jump out of the water ten or more feet into the air. Since these fish can reach 60 pounds, it's very dangerous if a leaping fish were to hit a boater, skier, or tuber.
3) Black Carp
Black carp were first brought into the US in the early 1970s as a “contaminant” in imported grass carp stocks delivered to a fish farm in Arkansas. The first record of escape or release into the wild occurred in 1994 into the Osage River in Missouri. Black carp are native to most Pacific drainages of eastern Asia. They have been found in several locations along the Mississippi River south of Iowa. The black carp poses a serious threat to native mollusk and snail species, many of which are currently federally listed as threatened or endangered.
4) Round Goby
As of now, the round goby has not yet been found in Iowa waters, but this fish is becoming increasingly common in the Great Lakes. The goby has the potential to enter the Mississippi River through the Chicago Ship and Sanitary Canal and down the Illinois River. If round gobies colonize the Mississippi River, endangered species like mottled sculpins, logperch, lake sturgeon, and darter populations could be further impacted. Anglers are usually the first to discover the round goby because hook and line commonly catch these aggressive fish. If caught in Iowa, report any sightings to help prevent their spread.
5) White Perch
Native to Atlantic coastal regions, white perch invaded the Great Lakes through the Erie and Welland canals in 1950. They are currently found in southern Iowa tributaries of the Missouri River. White perch have been found to eat the eggs of walleye, white bass, other white perch, and possibly other species as well. Additionally, white perch is actually a species of bass. They have been found to hybridize with native white bass in western Lake Erie.
The ruffe is a small member of the perch family native to central and Eastern Europe. It was introduced to Minnesota around 1985 and is spreading to other rivers and bays around Lake Superior. The ruffe has not been found in Iowa to date. Ruffe grows rapidly and can reproduce in their first year. In infested areas, the ruffe has caused serious impacts on the population of yellow perch, emerald shiners, and other forage fish. The ruffe’s ability to displace other species in newly invaded areas is due to its high reproductive rate, its feeding efficiency, and spiny characteristics.
Rudd’s are native to Eurasia and range from Western Europe to the Caspian Sea. They were introduced to the United States in the late 19th Century. Rudd has spread throughout much of the country, including 20 states and parts of the Great Lakes system. The impact of its introduction is still unknown. The fish can however hybrid with native golden shiners which could have unknown consequences for the native species. The Rudd also competes efficiently with other fish for resources as it is omnivorous, changing its diet from insects and minnows to plants, unlike most native fish. Bait bucket release is the primary mechanism by which Rudd has gained access to our open waters. Due to the rudd’s similarity to golden shiners, they can become accidentally mixed in with shiner shipments to bait dealers to be later introduced by anglers.
Again, Iowa law states that fishermen who catch invasive species should immediately kill or return the species to the water from which it came. Species can also be transported in a sealed container for identification purposes only.