Erie, Pennsylvania (WJET/WFXP/YourErie.com) — The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) is reporting the possible presence of invasive silver carp in Presque Isle Bay.

The PFBC announced Thursday that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) detected the presence of silver carp environmental DNA (eDNA) in the Bay. Now, the PFBC is conducting sampling in those areas.

Bighead, silver and black carp are Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS). It is unlawful to possess, introduce or import, transport, sell, purchase, offer for sale or barter these species in Pennsylvania, according to the PFBC’s website.

The invasive species pose a threat to the biodiversity of native species and habitat, along with imposing safety risks to boaters. Invasive carp have had a devastating impact in the Mississippi River system and now pose a threat to the Great Lakes.

These carp species are a threat due to their large size (some can grow to more than 100 pounds and five feet in length), reproductive success, habitat damage and large, year-round food consumption. Also, silver carp can jump up to 10 feet out of the water striking boaters, causing severe injury.

On July 11, the PFBC was informed by the USFWS that laboratory results from routine eDNA sampling in May 2022 detected silver carp eDNA at one of the 100 sample locations in Presque Isle Bay.

PFBC sampling has so far found no live silver carp in the Bay.

Although no live carp have been detected in the Bay, the PFBC has requested that the USFWS collect additional water samples from Presque Isle Bay in the fall when more favorable environmental conditions are present for eDNA sampling.

The presence of eDNA doesn’t necessarily mean it was from a live fish. It could be from other things such as bird feces, water transported in the live well of a recreational boat recently in waters infested with silver carp, or from melted ice used to store silver carp at fish markets that flowed into storm sewers. 

However, the PFBC reports repeated detections of eDNA over time increases the concern that the genetic material may have come from live fish.

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Invasive carp pose a significant threat to the Great Lakes ecosystem, the $7 billion-dollar fishery, and other economic interests dependent on the Great Lakes and its tributaries. 

Anglers are urged to become familiar with the identification of invasive carp as the spread of juvenile invasive carp using live bait buckets has been identified as a potential point of entry into the waters of the Great Lakes.

Visit the PFBC website for more information on invasive silver carp as well as other aquatic species. The public can report sightings of aquatic invasive species to the PFBC online at https://pfbc.pa.gov/forms/reportAIS.htm.

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