A focus on the asian carp issue
By Becky Brooks
Being in what some would call a landlocked Marine business does not keep Cory Burroughs immune from the effects of what Asian Carp entering Lake Erie could do to his market, but despite constant attention to the issue he is not overly concerned.
Burroughs, whose family business Burroughs Marine Inc., in Clyde, is located 8 miles from Sandusky Bay and 8 to 10 miles from the Sandusky River, said his customers have shared concerns.
The family marine business and service sits comfortably in the middle of corn fields instead of water.
His customers include charter captains, boat owners and even the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Burroughs as of Oct. 1 was Evinrude’s top salesman in Ohio and Burroughs also has the outboard motor company’s master technician award. Nationwide, the rural business rates 18th in sales for the Evinrude company, Burroughs said.
“We do a lot of repowers,” Burroughs said about renovating a boats power with a new motor.
Burroughs said Asian carp issues are a concern for his boat customers.
The good news for the summer, however, is that no Asian carp have been located in Lake Erie or the waters of Northwest Ohio, according to Rich Carter, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. “There is not evidence of young fish that would indicate reproduction,” he also pointed out in October.
Carter said after a summer of multiple agencies conducting fishing and testing, his agency will now look at reports from Ohio, Michigan, Canada and Pennsylvania to determine the next strategic steps in dealing with Asian carp.
“We are evacuating our next step forward,” he added.
Over the summer, the ODNR, Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) collaborated to assess the current status of bighead and silver carp within western Lake Erie bays and select tributaries, according to an ODNR report.
Laboratory results received late summer indicated the presence of Asian carp environmental DNA (eDNA) in six of the 417 water samples collected in August 2011. Four samples from Sandusky Bay, in Ohio waters, tested positive for bighead carp eDNA, while two samples from north Maumee Bay, in Michigan waters, were positive for silver carp eDNA. The findings indicate the presence of genetic material left behind by the species, such as scales, excrement or mucous, but not the establishment of Asian carp in Lake Erie.
The search for Asian Carp has not been limited to wildlife and natural resources.
The United States Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey also reported in a press release that major bodies of water in Northwest Ohio were very hospitable environments for Asian Carp — including Western Lake Erie, Sandusky Bay, and the Sandusky, Maumee and Grand rivers.
The USGS reported that from experience if Asian carps find a home and establish breeding in Lake Erie, it could have a grave impact on the native fish and Great Lakes economy.
So far that there is not specific evidence of that, according to Carter.
The three types of Asian carp that breed in rivers during high summer flows are the Silver, Bighead and Grass carps, the USGS reported.
According to the USGS, a study released this summer found that the Maumee River, which enters western Lake Erie at Toledo, is highly suitable for Asian carp to mature and spawn.
The Sandusky River — which stretches from Upper Sandusky through Wyandot, Seneca, Sandusky and Erie counties to Sandusky Bay — would be moderately suitable for the invasive fish — as would the Grand River that enters the lake at Fairport Harbor, a press release noted.
In September, ODNR reported that Asian carp environmental DNA (eDNA) had been detected in three of 350 water samples collected in Maumee Bay and the Maumee River between July and Aug. 4. Silver carp eDNA was detected.
In July, ODNR and other agencies also collected 150 water samples from Sandusky Bay and three tested positive for silver car eDNA as well.
ODNR noted, though, that eDNA cannot verify whether DNA from the invasive fish came from live or dead fish or from other sources such as bilge water, storm sewers or fish-eating birds.
The joint agencies also conducted electrofishing and traditional gill net fishing in Sandusky Bay and the Sandusky River in September and found no Asian carp, Carter said.
Carter said that besides that testing, there is other data being collected.
“There has been sampling of bait dealers throughout the Great Lakes,” he added. His agency is one waiting for eDNA results from those tests. The goal is to determine the source of the eDNA being picked up in water samples from local bodies of water, he added.
At present Burroughs in Clyde is not too concerned about Asian carp yet.
“For us, it probably won’t affect us too much,” he commented this fall. Local fishermen and charter captains are concerned it may change their season, he commented. “The charter guys are most worried about it,” he added.
“They ask about it,” he said. “What do we think about it.”
“We have heard horror stories,” Burroughs commented.
“All we can do is kind of wait and see what is going to come of it.”
Becky Brooks is Managing Editor of The Bellevue Gazette & OCM Lake Erie Central Division. She can be reached at (419) 483‑4190, or at email@example.com.