(WHTM) – The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission says the invasive Northern Snakeheads fish has been reported in portions of the Susquehanna River.
The commission says those who catch the fish should report and dispose of any fish caught.
The advisory comes after multiple captures in Conowingo Reservoir by fishers and biologists this summer, including evidence of reproduction in the reservoir.
Surveillance began in the lower Susquehanna River in May 2020 when 21 fish passed the Conowingo Dam during fish lift operations.
“Northern Snakeheads are voracious predators and may cause declines in important sport fisheries, such as bass and panfish, and may inhibit recovery efforts for species of conservation concern in the region such as American Shad and Chesapeake Logperch,” said Sean Hartzell, PFBC Aquatic Invasive Species Coordinator. “This is a critical time to protect the Susquehanna River from further expansion of invasive Northern Snakeheads by removing them to reduce adverse impacts.”
The commission says possession, transport, and importation of live snakeheads is illegal in both Pennsylvania and Maryland. They can be taken by hook and line, as well as bow fishing with no size or creel limits.
Anyone who catches a snakehead fish should immediately kill it by removing the head, gill arches, or internal organs and disposing of the carcasses in the trash or as garden fertilizer. Their white meat fillets are “considered desirable table fare” according to the commission.
“Biologists are monitoring for Northern Snakeheads and removing individuals caught to reduce abundance both during targeted work and during fisheries surveys for other species,” said Kris Kuhn, Director of the PFBC Bureau of Fisheries. “Anglers play a critical role in controlling the spread of this invasive species by harvesting and reporting any fish caught. We’re counting on their cooperation.”
The fish are native to parts of China, Korea, and Russia and were first reported in the region in the early 2000s.