Jumping invasive fish can lay 5 million eggs — and have hurt boaters on Missouri river

Missouri Department of Conservation
·2 min read

Invasive fish that can produce as many as 5 million eggs are threatening several Missouri waterways. These same fish have also been known to seriously hurt boaters by jumping out of the water when startled by motors.

Silver carp are one of several species being targeted by state wildlife officials in a “major invasive fish removal project.”

The Missouri Department of Conservation hopes to remove 15,000 pounds of invasive fish from the lower Grand River, including silver, bighead, grass and black carp.

“Invasive carp reproduce prolifically, crowding rivers and removing food and nutrients from the food chain that sport fish and other native fish need,” the department said in an Aug. 15 news release.

For example, silver carp can spawn multiple times each reproductive season — and they can lay anywhere from 145,000 to 5,400,000 eggs, according to estimates from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The bigger the female, the more eggs they can produce.

The bigger silver carp are also a real threat to anglers and others on the water.

Large silver carp can leap 10 feet into the air when startled by boat motors, which can cause serious injuries to passengers in moving boats and tear up gear,” Missouri officials said.

For five days, state conservation agents will close the Brunswick Access of the lower Grand River along with the final 8 miles of the waterway, before it meets the Missouri River.

During that time, they will work with commercial fishermen and federal wildlife officials to remove invasive carp from the river.

“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,” officials said. “The aim is to develop future ways that commercial anglers could remove invasive carp from feeder streams and provide benefits for the sport fishery.”

Researchers will also evaluate “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,” Kasey Whiteman, MDC resource science field station supervisor, said in the news release.

Fish caught during the project will be used as food, feed and bait products, according to the news release.

“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.”

Officials say anglers will also benefit from the project as “desired native fish from buffalo and paddlefish to flathead and channel catfish will have less competition for food and space.”

The nets are scheduled to be placed Sept. 12-16, but if a weather event causes delays, the program will be rescheduled for Oct. 17-22.

Brunswick is about 90 miles northeast of Kansas City.

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