By MATT PIKE
St. Joseph Post
The Missouri Department of Conservation completed a successful invasive carp removal project, removing even more than officials had hoped.
The goal of the project was to remove 15,000 pounds of invasive carp from the river, at the completion of the project department officials had removed 25,000 pounds.
The project improved the river habitat for native fish and provided information for how commercial operations might be used in the future to reduce invasive carp. A commercial fishing business will market the fish caught during this operation.
“We were able to run very smooth and efficiently,” said Department Supervisor Kasey Whitman in a news release. “The weather and the river cooperated.”
Since this was also a research project, every invasive carp was counted with a final tally of 6,716 fish. More than 95 percent were silver carp. Some grass carp and a few bighead carp were also caught.
The average size of the silver carp caught was three to four pounds. Those are fish that are two to three years old and are on the borderline to becoming sexually mature. So, removing them can help limit future spawn of invasives.
One surprise, Whiteman said, is that more paddlefish were caught than expected. All native fish caught were weighed, measured, and released unharmed outside the project zone. Most of the native fish caught were buffalo, carp suckers, and shad.
The information gathered will be used to guide future operations. If commercial invasive carp removal becomes feasible in the future, the operators under current regulations would only be allowed to use hoop nets, seines, gill nets, and trammel nets.
MDC appreciates the Grand River angling community for their patience and support for the project and the temporary access and river closing
“It’s a knowledge gain and learning so we can strategize for the future,” Whiteman says.